The Burning of the Houses of Parliament. Coloured aquatint. The greatest new building of mid-19th century London was the new Palace of Westminster. It was built after the old palace burnt down on the night of 16 October 1834. The fire was caused by over-loading the Palace furnaces with unwanted wooden 'tallies', notched sticks of wood formerly used as receipts by the Exchequer. By the time the alarm was raised, fire had spread through the chimney to the whole building. In the architectural competition that followed, 97 architects submitted designs for a building worthy of housing the nation's Parliament. The winning design by the architect Charles Barry combined a Gothic style with classically regular proportions, giving the new building associations with both Christian morality and classical democracy. The new House of Commons and House of Lords opened in 1852. The giant clock and bell tower known as Big Ben were completed in 1859.