Caroline Shenton BOOKtalk


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS


Caroline Shenton

Mark D'Arcy in discussion with author and historian Caroline Shenton on her book Mr Barry's War: Rebuilding the Houses of Parliament After the Great Fire of 1834.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Caroline Shenton. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

And there was a time when a lesser figure then Benjamin Disraeli said

:00:14.:00:43.

that an architect be hanged. The current Houses of Parliament rose

:00:44.:00:48.

from the ashes of the fire and that story is told today. Her is Mr

:00:49.:00:54.

Barry's war Caroline, the Mr Barry was the architect of the Victorian

:00:55.:01:00.

building the we knew today and he worked with a medievalist designer.

:01:01.:01:05.

What was the nature of the partnership? Who did what? Charles

:01:06.:01:10.

Barry was the architect in charge. He brought people into help him.

:01:11.:01:18.

Barry was a brilliant classical architect, fantastic at ground

:01:19.:01:25.

planning. To get the Gothic detailing that was required by the

:01:26.:01:30.

rules. Thereafter, they had a partnership on and off in creating

:01:31.:01:35.

this amazingly famous building. The Gothic detailing is what makes the

:01:36.:01:39.

Palace of Westminster, isn't it? The gold, murals, the statue. It is what

:01:40.:01:49.

makes the Palace of Westminster on the service. You have to remember

:01:50.:01:54.

this is extraordinary in terms of its planning, the way it is laid

:01:55.:01:57.

out. The way that people can circulate around it. That was

:01:58.:02:01.

Barry's real genius and contribution to the overall plan. He was the

:02:02.:02:06.

person who was having to deal with all of the politics, the reputation

:02:07.:02:10.

issues associated with building the Palace as well. This was a great

:02:11.:02:14.

mega project of its error with vast amount of public and political and

:02:15.:02:23.

royal -- its era. Did it ever buckle under the strain of scrutiny? It

:02:24.:02:29.

started off well. His co-architect regarded Barry as his mental. Both

:02:30.:02:35.

men were geniuses. They were the only men who understood each other.

:02:36.:02:44.

-- was his mental. They had very different personalities, Barry was

:02:45.:02:46.

very measured, tactful, good politics. Kept to a regular routine.

:02:47.:02:53.

Had a very stable home life throughout the course of the

:02:54.:02:56.

building. His co-architect was very emotional. Had affairs, married

:02:57.:03:03.

three times. You always know what he's thinking about. His letters

:03:04.:03:07.

survive and you have a really good of the ups and downs of where he

:03:08.:03:15.

was. Barry's correspondence was destroyed either by him by his son

:03:16.:03:19.

's subsequent to his death. We have do understand him through first-hand

:03:20.:03:28.

accounts. We never hear his voice. Let's go back to the great fire that

:03:29.:03:35.

destroyed Parliament. Was it immediately obvious that they were

:03:36.:03:41.

going to rebuild on that site? There was considerable debate following

:03:42.:03:46.

the fire as to whether Parliament should move away altogether. There

:03:47.:03:52.

have been suggestions leading up to the fire that Regents Park should be

:03:53.:03:59.

chosen. In fact became actually offered Buckingham Palace. He hated

:04:00.:04:04.

Buckingham Palace. That was rejected. Within five days of the

:04:05.:04:11.

fire itself, the person in charge of royal palaces at the time decided

:04:12.:04:14.

that there would be temporarily changes built on site for the

:04:15.:04:20.

duration of any rebuilding and then they let a competition happen to

:04:21.:04:28.

enable an architect to come forward. By a competition? One of the

:04:29.:04:31.

interesting things about the competition brief was that it had to

:04:32.:04:39.

be in a Gothic or Elizabethan style. Why a competition, why a style?

:04:40.:04:44.

Initially it was thought that it was going to go to Robert Smirk. He was

:04:45.:04:50.

a favourite of Robert Peel, the Prime Minister. There was a

:04:51.:04:53.

firestorm of complaint in the press and the public realm and so Smack

:04:54.:05:01.

didn't get the job and it was decided that there would be a public

:05:02.:05:06.

competition. Anyone could enter and would pay a pound to get the ground

:05:07.:05:14.

plans for the site. One of the key roles set by the members was that it

:05:15.:05:18.

should be in the Gothic or Elizabethan style and by Elizabethan

:05:19.:05:22.

they meant perpendicular Gothic, like you get at Kings College

:05:23.:05:25.

Cambridge, for example. One of the reasons they said that in the

:05:26.:05:31.

competition was that the ruined Chapel of Saint Stephen 's revealed

:05:32.:05:40.

again because of the fire had come back to life having been bad back,

:05:41.:05:43.

it was their right on the doorstep. As they would debating what was

:05:44.:05:47.

going to be happening. I think that influenced them tremendously in

:05:48.:05:56.

terms of what style. So they had a Gothic masterpiece right in the

:05:57.:06:00.

middle of the site. Yes, tottering. Still there. You talked a lot

:06:01.:06:04.

earlier about how Barry's genius meant that the public could

:06:05.:06:07.

circulate around and that of course is a complete contrast to what had

:06:08.:06:12.

gone before because the old Palace of Westminster which was destroyed

:06:13.:06:15.

by fire was basically a higgledy-piggledy conglomeration of

:06:16.:06:20.

buildings over the centuries. Was there an idea that there was

:06:21.:06:24.

something much better organised in the future needed? Yes. Much bigger

:06:25.:06:33.

spaces, dedicated division lobbies, enough space for libraries, four

:06:34.:06:39.

restaurants. It is to meet constituents. It was actually very

:06:40.:06:45.

specifically laid out in the competition rules what was required.

:06:46.:06:48.

How good was the competition entries that came in Chris McCann many? 97

:06:49.:06:59.

entries. --? How many? Some were completely mad. Somewhat pedestrian.

:07:00.:07:09.

A handful will really interesting. The judges found themselves having

:07:10.:07:14.

to look through 1400 different drawings from the competitors to

:07:15.:07:17.

decide who was going to win. What sort of Houses of Parliament might

:07:18.:07:25.

we have had? Thomas Hopper who was a favourite architect of George IV put

:07:26.:07:32.

forward a scheme where he was going to doubles and Stephen's Chapel and

:07:33.:07:39.

have the old building being the new House of Commons and the new

:07:40.:07:44.

duplicate Saint Stephen's coming the House of Lords. He also proposed

:07:45.:07:47.

doubling Westminster Hall. I can't imagine how that would have worked

:07:48.:07:51.

or what they would have been used for. His scheme was pretty wacky.

:07:52.:08:00.

And an entry that didn't get sent in is portrayed in a painting by an

:08:01.:08:07.

architect called JM Gandhi and he has created a giant classical

:08:08.:08:12.

Sennett house in St James's Park for the House of Lords which is an

:08:13.:08:16.

absolutely hilarious thing. Extraordinary designs that have come

:08:17.:08:21.

forward. Barry wins it. Incidentally, Augustus Pugin was to

:08:22.:08:24.

timing him at this point working for another designer. 'S right. To make

:08:25.:08:31.

one was known as being very good -- Augustus Pugin was known for being

:08:32.:08:38.

very good at Gothic design. He was doing the whole design on his other

:08:39.:08:44.

one, but Barry had his design and he asked Augustus Pugin to add to it.

:08:45.:08:50.

He would change Augustus Pugin's designed after he received the extra

:08:51.:08:55.

things that Augustus Pugin had put on. It was a melding of the two

:08:56.:09:00.

men's genius. And Barry and Augustus Pugin won hands down. It was thought

:09:01.:09:04.

to be the outstanding entry. Augustus Pugin was not credited. It

:09:05.:09:11.

was Barry's name that when Ford as the architect. That was the start of

:09:12.:09:19.

a quarter of a century long project. It was not smooth sailing the whole

:09:20.:09:23.

way through. Augustus Pugin went for three years to do his own

:09:24.:09:27.

architectural project... Practice and then Barry asked to come back in

:09:28.:09:34.

the middle of the 18 1840s with rooms that he was having problems

:09:35.:09:38.

with, particularly the Royal throne. Augustus Pugin came back in the

:09:39.:09:43.

mid-18 40s and initially there collaboration was very friendly. As

:09:44.:09:49.

the pressure of the project continued, the money started to run

:09:50.:09:55.

out, Barry had to cut Augustus Pugin's salary as well as his own.

:09:56.:10:01.

And poor old Augustus Pugin, unbeknownst to everybody, had this

:10:02.:10:04.

mystery illness which turned out in the end to be syphilis and by the

:10:05.:10:08.

time of his death at the age of 40, it had got to his brain and had

:10:09.:10:14.

turned him in Saint. A lot of the mood swings, a lot of the ups and

:10:15.:10:18.

downs that you see in his correspondence are because of his

:10:19.:10:24.

mental health failing terribly. Augustus Pugin came to a wretched

:10:25.:10:29.

end, but Barry came to a sticky one as well. All the interested parties

:10:30.:10:37.

trying to get their pet schemes in. Tell us about that. The most

:10:38.:10:42.

notorious one was the ventilation schemes of a Scottish chemist called

:10:43.:10:47.

Doctor David Boswell read, he was brought in as the condition an

:10:48.:10:53.

expert over Barry's head and proceeded to punch holes in Barry's

:10:54.:10:56.

designed to create great events through the palace itself that

:10:57.:11:01.

compromise the fireproofing that Barry had put in very carefully to

:11:02.:11:06.

ensure that there wasn't going to be a repeat of 1834. In fact, we are

:11:07.:11:12.

still living with that legacy today because it is those pence that

:11:13.:11:18.

Boswell read put in there whenever used, that are filled with all the

:11:19.:11:24.

obsolete wiring and pipework and asbestos that mean that today the

:11:25.:11:29.

Houses of Parliament need restoration and all that needs to be

:11:30.:11:34.

ripped out. That is not the only problem. There is a problem with Big

:11:35.:11:41.

Ben, the bell, which cracked. Yes, Big Ben broke twice. The first Big

:11:42.:11:49.

Ben was cast in Stockton appointees, it managed to make its way on a

:11:50.:11:56.

boat. It was pulled across Westminster Bridge by a team of 16

:11:57.:12:01.

white horses to great clapping crowds and then it was wrong for a

:12:02.:12:05.

year on the ground in new Palace Yard to test it and just a few days

:12:06.:12:11.

before it was due to be installed, it cracked. That had to be broken up

:12:12.:12:16.

and the second Big Ben was recast. It turned up at Westminster, it was

:12:17.:12:22.

fine after the test readings, but then it was discovered that it was

:12:23.:12:26.

too big to get into the base of the tower. It had to be tipped on its

:12:27.:12:30.

side and pushed in sideways. Winch tap. It was righted at the top and

:12:31.:12:42.

once it started to ring it cracked again. It is still there. They

:12:43.:12:52.

turned it a bit. Meanwhile, the MPs weren't too sold on the new common's

:12:53.:12:57.

chamber that Barry had designed for them, either? They complained

:12:58.:13:00.

bitterly about the acoustics. That is where they suggested hanging him.

:13:01.:13:08.

Yes, why it was so expensive, why it had taken so long and they demanded

:13:09.:13:11.

that he lowered the ceiling of the chamber to improve the sound

:13:12.:13:17.

quality. He did, but that involved cutting through Augustus Pugin's

:13:18.:13:24.

stained-glass window design that he was so furious that he refused to

:13:25.:13:28.

ever set foot in the common's chamber. As it began to emerge from

:13:29.:13:35.

the wreckage of the original parliamentary buildings, did people

:13:36.:13:38.

start to like it or see the point of it once they could see at emerging?

:13:39.:13:44.

Epic the public was always behind it and particularly the celebrities

:13:45.:13:49.

that Barry brought in across European royal houses absolutely

:13:50.:13:53.

adored it. It became the must see site of London for royal visitors

:13:54.:13:59.

coming to see Queen Victoria. It was really the politicians, the

:14:00.:14:05.

Government, who were constantly complaining about the building.

:14:06.:14:11.

There were casualties along the way, by spectacularly the painted chamber

:14:12.:14:14.

which had started life as the bedroom of King Henry the third,

:14:15.:14:18.

full of medieval murals as the name suggests and that was just casually

:14:19.:14:24.

knocked down as the work went on. Yes. That was the temporary House of

:14:25.:14:28.

Lords. All the paintings had been burned away by the fire itself, but

:14:29.:14:32.

the walls were found to be sturdy enough to be able to be reroofed as

:14:33.:14:38.

this temporarily Shaq, if you like. It was swept away in 1851. As well

:14:39.:14:44.

as all the other old buildings that weren't kept. Westminster remains

:14:45.:14:47.

and the undercroft Chapel, as This whole complex has evolved and

:14:48.:14:57.

we are into another phase of redevelopment. Another era of

:14:58.:15:01.

restoration and renewal to get the building into shape. Should the

:15:02.:15:05.

people conducting that look on this tale and tremble? Well, there are

:15:06.:15:09.

lessons from history but they are really lessons from any major

:15:10.:15:14.

building programme. One of the interesting proposals coming out of

:15:15.:15:18.

the joint committee on the restoration and renewal of the

:15:19.:15:21.

Houses of Parliament is that there should be a delivery authority, like

:15:22.:15:24.

the Olympic delivery authority that was so successful, and had a rehab

:15:25.:15:28.

that in the 19th century that would have solved a lot of his problems.

:15:29.:15:33.

It was never quite clear to him who was his client? Was it the office of

:15:34.:15:39.

woods, was it the Government, was at the Treasury, was at the individual

:15:40.:15:46.

MPs, was at the Prime Minister? Understanding the governance between

:15:47.:15:49.

who is in charge and he was delivering is really important, I

:15:50.:15:52.

think that is what the delivery authority is designed to do. You

:15:53.:15:56.

have written about the great fire that destroyed the original

:15:57.:15:58.

buildings Comey you have now described the emergence of the vote

:15:59.:16:02.

Tory and Palace of Westminster. Can we look forward to -- of the

:16:03.:16:06.

Victorian Palace of Westminster. Can we look forward to volume three? I'm

:16:07.:16:11.

still working on what that might be! Thank you for joining us. Book talk

:16:12.:16:16.

will be back again next week, do join us then.

:16:17.:16:48.

It is frustrating when the FBI refuses to answer this committee's

:16:49.:16:56.

questions. But leaks relevant information to the media. In other

:16:57.:17:00.

words, they don't talk to us, but somebody talks to the media.

:17:01.:17:04.

Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports

:17:05.:17:10.

about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton

:17:11.:17:11.

investigation?

:17:12.:17:12.