William Godwin's Diary


A fire broke out in the Palace of Westminster on the evening of 16 October 1832, caused by the careless burning of old tally sticks that had once been used by clerks in the Court of Exchequer. The fire eventually destroyed the Painted Chamber and the whole of the Lords and the Commons, including the library. Part of the Speaker’s house was also destroyed, but Westminster Hall was preserved, as were the lodgings Godwin occupied at 13 New Palace Yard as Office Keeper and Yeoman Usher of the Receipt of the Exchequer. His official duties actually included, ‘to keep the Fire Engine, and to take care that it be at all times fit for use’ and, ‘to pay persons for sweeping and dusting the Offices, lighting the fires and sweeping Chimnies’, but he was at the theatre watching Richard III when the fire started and Mary began moving his books to safety.

See The Times, 17 October 1834; Morning Chronicle, 17 and 18 October 1834 and Locke, pp. 334-37.