Quiz questions

Lord Norton

I thought I would pick up on Lord Soley’s post on the Bonfire of the Vanities.  As he says, it is 175 years since the Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire.  The House of Lords went up in flames first, followed by the Commons.  Westminster Hall was saved.  The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Althrop, apparently declared: ‘Damn the House of Commons, let it blaze away; but save, oh save the Hall’.

The fire was watched by large crowds.  Both Constable and Turner were present and were later to depict the event. It was also seen by Pugin, who was to be so central to the construction of the new Palace.  The Prime Minister was also present and was busy supervising the removal of various records.

This week’s questions relate to the fire.  The first two readers to provide the correct answers will be the winners.

1.  What caused the fire that destroyed the Palace of Westminster?

2. Who was the Prime Minister at the time?

3. Whose design was chosen for the new Palace of Westminster?

11 comments for “Quiz questions

  1. franksummers3ba
    17/10/2009 at 2:07 pm

    1. Burning tally sticks to combine disposal and economy in the underground heater under Lords which ignited the paneling.
    2.William Lamb Viscount Melbourne

  2. 17/10/2009 at 2:38 pm

    1. A stove in the Lords’ Chamber ignited paneling

    2. William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (the namesake of Melbourne, Australia)

    3. Charles Berry

  3. Rob
    17/10/2009 at 5:00 pm

    1. the burning of wooden tally sticks which had been once used by the Exchequer for accounting.

    2. Lord Melbourne

    3. Charles Barry

  4. adrian kidney
    17/10/2009 at 6:26 pm

    1) Treasury tally sticks, used to note the debts of illiterate people!

    2) Lord Melbourne was Prime Minister.

    3) Sir Charles Barry’s design was selected for the New Palace.

  5. Jamie
    17/10/2009 at 7:07 pm

    I think this might be the first time I’ve seen the questions quickly enough and have a vague idea of the answers. Finger crossed!

    1. Workmen burning old tally sticks got a bit enthusiastic and overstoked the furnace.

    2. This is sneakily complicated, but I think it was Melbourne.

    3. Charles Barry.

  6. Ross McFarlane
    18/10/2009 at 12:47 am

    I found this an interesting diversion from studying for the evening. The answers are as follows:

    1. The fire was started after a stove overheated in the Lords chamber.

    2. The Prime Minister was William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne who took office on the 16th July of that year.

    3. The architech for the new Palace of Westminster was Sir Charles Barry, his assistant Augustus Welby Pugin should be mentioned aswell because Sir Charles Barry relied heavily on him.

  7. Chris K
    18/10/2009 at 11:16 am

    1) Burning tally sticks too close to wooden panels
    2) Melbourne
    3) (Sir) Charles Barry

  8. Kadin
    18/10/2009 at 12:52 pm

    1. A bunch of sticks were being burnt in a stove, it was overfilled and the fire spread.

    2. William Lamb.

    3. Charles Barry.

    What’s my prize (I’m holding out for a cookie)?

  9. Croft
    18/10/2009 at 2:33 pm

    Somewhat late for the questions but as I remember Lord Althrop, mentioned above, was an MP at the time of the quote but almost immediately after the fire his father died so he was forced to leave the commons, both by its physical destruction and by his succession to an earldom, causing in part the the fall of the government.

  10. lordnorton
    18/10/2009 at 5:07 pm

    I am ipmressed by the number of responses. As will be clear, the answers are that the fire was started by the burning of old tally sticks, the PM was Lord Melbourne, and it was Charles Barry’s design selected for the new Palace.

    Tally sticks had already ceased to be used as a form of goverment accounting: the sticks were pieces of wood that were split (one piece denoting a promise of payment), and were matched up to secure money. It was decided to burn the obsolete sticks, but the Clerk of the Works decided not to burn them in the Exchequer Yard, but opted instead for the furnaces of the House of Lords. Suffice to say, the flues had not been cleaned for some time.

    Lord Melbourne was one of several high-ranking persons who attended the fire. Part of the problem in tackling the blaze was the number of officials who were present, with differing views on how to tackle the blaze. Another problem was the size of the crowds that had gathered to watch the spectacle.

    Charles Barry was, as Ross McFarlane mentions, assisted by Pugin. They created the magnificent mock-gothic Palace of Westminster, though Barry’s plans were generally panned by the architects who had been unsuccessful in the competition. The building of the new Palace was far from problem-free. It took its toll on Pugin’s health – he went insane and was confined to Bedlam, where he died at the age of 40. Barry died in 1860 of a heart attack.

    Congratulations to franksummers3ba, who was the first to respond with three flawless answers. I feel a bit mean, but I think I am going to have to be strict in assessing the answers, which means that Rich Kaszeta misses out for identifying Berry rather than Barry as the architect. As a result, Rob is the other prize-winner this week. Congratulations to all the other readers who responded with the correct answers. Kadin wants to know what constitutes the prize. For those who were not the first two to respond with the correct answers, but nonetheless did get the answers correct, the prize is the satisfaction of being right and having that fact on the public record.

    I think Croft deserves a bonus point for the additional piece of historical information.

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