There was again controversy over the safety of Christchurch in the 1820s. The Church Vestry decided that the building was quite safe, but thought it was expedient that they employ 3 architects to inspect the church to meet public demands as to its security.
One of the architects appointed was Englishman George Richard Pain who was trained by the famous John Nash, who renovated and remodelled Buckingham Palace in 1820s, designed Marble Arch and the conservatory in Kew Gardens.
Work on renovating the church began in 1827. Parts of the North and South Walls were taken down and rebuilt while the early Georgian façade (including the last of the tower) was completely demolished and rebuilt with polished cut limestone.
The current façade is neo-classical in style and the entrance is covered by an ionic columned portico. When the tower was removed the bell was put in a ‘bell cote’, a framework supported on brackets built on the roof.
In the renovation the wood supports for the roof were removed, and cast iron columns with outer wooden frames were introduced. An ornate roof was added and the gallery reseated. Various arches in the crypt were repaired and others removed. The full works were completed in April 1829.
With his brother James, Pain worked on Blackrock Castle after it was gutted by fire in 1827. The neo-gothic complex of buildings around a courtyard is essentially what remains today. Other works with his brother James include works on Dromoland Castle and the design and rebuilding of Cork City Court House (1830-35) and additions to the County Gaol on the Western Road in the early 1820s. They also designed the church of St Barrahane in Castletownsend.
Pain was elected Freeman of the city of Cork in 1827. He died in Cork on 26 December 1838 at the age of 45 and was buried in the churchyard of Saint Mary’s in Shandon.