Wednesday 16 October 2019

Keeping a tally.

Remember, remember
The 16th of October?

What?! That can't be right surely! Traditionally we celebrate the attempted burning down of the Houses of Parliament on Bonfire Night. May I be so bold as to suggest that indeed today would be more appropriate. From the Middle Ages until 1826 when they were abolished notched wooden sticks known as tally sticks were used as a form of accounting by the Exchequer. Not all of them were destroyed and rather than be generous and give them away as free firewood the Clerk of Works decided to burn them in the Palace's furnaces in 1834. This proved to not be the wisest decision as it caused a chimney fire in two of the flues and near enough destroyed the whole lot. Thankfully Augustus Pugin was commissioned to design the rather spectacular New Palace of Westminster with which we are all familiar today.

1 comment:

  1. A tally stick in this context is new to me, Aril. Thought cutting notches on a stick was a method used by herders counting flocks or warriors counting coup. Wonder what skins or scalps the Clerk of Works was tallying?


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