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On the night of 16 October 1834, the
Houses of Parliament caught fire. Along
with crowds of other astonished spectators, Turner made his way on to the river Thames in a boat to witness the spectacle of the conflagration. This vignette engraving, based on sketches taken that very night, appeared in The Keepsake, a successful 'pocket book' popular for its high quality illustrations and literary offerings. In this plate, the fire has entirely engulfed the Houses of Parliament although Westminster Abbey is still clearly visible beyond. The design was accompanied by verses
recalling the events of the fateful night.

August 2004