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DateLecture
11 June 2019JMW Turner and the Day Parliament Burned Down
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JMW Turner and the Day Parliament Burned Down Caroline Shenton Tuesday 11 June 2019

In the early evening of the 16th October 1834, to the horror of bystanders, a huge ball of fire exploded through the roof of the Houses of Parliament, creating a blaze so enormous that it could be seen by the King and Queen at Windsor and from stagecoaches on top of the South Downs. In front of hundreds of thousands of witnesses the great conflagration destroyed Parliament’s glorious old buildings and their contents. No-one who witnessed the disaster would ever forget it.

Based on the acclaimed book of the same name, this talk takes the audience through the gripping hour-by-hour story of the fire through contemporary depictions of the disaster by Turner, William Heath and others.

Dr Caroline Shenton is an archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, and before that was a senior archivist at the National Archives. Her book 'The Day Parliament Burned Down' won the Political Book of the Year Award in 2013 and Mary Beard called it ‘microhistory at its absolute best’. Its acclaimed sequel, 'Mr Barry’s War', about the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, was a Book of the Year in 2016 for The Daily Telegraph and BBC History Magazine and was described by Lucy Worsley as ‘a real jewel, finely wrought and beautiful’. Caroline was Political Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library in 2017, has appeared at the Cheltenham, Hay and Henley literary festivals and on BBC radio and TV.