Skip to main content

Burning of the Palace of Westminster

During the blitz of 1940-41 the Houses of Parliament were damaged on 14 different occasions, including damage to Old Palace Yard and St Stephen's Porch. On the night of 10-11th May 1941, the House of Commons was hit by a number of incendiary bombs. The roof of Westminster Hall was set ablaze but saved by the fire service. The Commons Chamber was entirely destroyed. Four people lost their lives at Parliament during the blitz.

This painting on canvas was one of many works of art commissioned by the Ministry of Works to document this event and the subsequent damage to the Palace. William John MacLeod studied at Glasgow School of Art before volunteering to fight in WWI. He was discharged following injury and spent 10 years in recovery. During this time he served as a war artist. This work depicts streams of water attempting to quash the blaze at Parliament after the worst air raid attack.

Image: © Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA 2779


The Burning of the House of Commons, 1941


William John MacLeod


Oil on board

Catalogue number

WOA 2779