HL Deb 14 July 1835 vol 29 cc492-4
The Duke of Cumberland

asked, what was the intention of Government as to the buildings for the temporary accommodation of the two Houses, and especially what was intended with respect to the remaining walls of St. Stephen's Chapel?

Viscount Duncannon

said, that it was necessary to consider the subject, and that before he advised his Majesty to direct the adoption of any course with respect to the walls of St. Stephen's Chapel, he had thought it right to have the opinion of some other architects. He had submitted the question to Sir Jeffrey Wyattville, who, after examining the walls, thought them to be in a good state, and that with a small expense they might be perfectly restored. After receiving that opinion, he had sent to have the opinion of three other architects, Mr. Montague, Mr. In wood, and Mr. Cave, whom he had understood to be extensively employed in large buildings, and well acquainted with the stability of them. Two of these gentlemen confirmed the opinion of Sir Robert Smirke, the third said, that the upper part of the walls must be taken down; but that the under part of them might be restored. He had since then taken the opinion of two other architects, Messrs. Savage and Cottingham, and they stated distinctly that they had examined the walls, and were of opinion that they might be restored without any great difficulty or expense, and also that the walls were not now in a dangerous state. He had also received an opinion from Mr. Laing, who said that the walls were dangerous. Under these circumstances he should make no positive recommendation without further examination. He ought to observe, that in the proposition laid before Sir Robert Smirke with a view to the temporary accommodation of the House of Lords, the question of the possibility of St. Stephen's Chapel standing or not had never been introduced, and he did not seem to imply from his answers before the Committee, that for building the temporary House of Lords, it would be necessary to take down the walls of St. Stephen's Chapel. The questions put to him were distinct from that, and that matter had only recently been submitted to his consideration. It ought to be observed also, that in almost all the opinions of the architects, though some said the walls would stand, and others that the walls must be demolished, yet all agreed that the ornamental work and tracery must be removed.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

observed, that the noble and illustrious Duke was aware that the Committee had to secure not merely the old walls of the building, but also the indispensable safety of those which were now to be erected. He was glad that this opportunity had occurred of correcting what he conceived to be a misrepresentation which had gone abroad on this subject. He could assure their Lordships that there was no individual belonging to the Committee who was more anxious than he was to preserve any part of that Chapel in its ancient form, and with all its ancient recollections, so far as there were any practicable means of doing it. Of course such an object was not to be attained at the cost of great individual danger to those who might frequent such a building. If the old walls could be maintained without danger, they would be maintained; but if it should be necessary, they must be demolished, at least to a certain extent, with a view to restore the rest.

The Duke of Cumberland

wished the walls to be saved if it was possible. In his opinion, the reports of the architects should be shown to the House, and submitted to his Majesty before they were finally received and acted upon.