Sunday, October 28, 2018

Great Fire of 1666

London was a busy city in 1666. It was very crowded. The streets were narrow and dusty. The Great Fire of London is one of the most well-known disasters in London’s history. It began on Sunday evening 2nd of September 1666 and lasted just under five days.

It started at 1 am in Pudding Lane in the shop of the king’s baker, Thomas Farrinor. When Thomas went to bed, he did not put out the fire that heated his oven. Sparks from the oven fell onto some dry flour sacks and they caught fire.

The fire spread easily because London was very dry after a long, hot summer. The area around Pudding Lane was full of warehouses containing highly flammable things like timber, rope and oil. The flames spread through the house, down Pudding Lane and into the nearby streets.

The fire swept through the city of London, gutting most of the medieval city, destroying parish churches, thousands of homes and wiping out landmarks such as St. Paul’s Cathedral. The fire forced thousands of Londoners to flee their homes and caused havoc through the city.

The fire still spread, helped by a strong wind from the east. London Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral were both burnt. There was no fire brigade in London in 1666 so Londoners themselves had to fight the fire, helped by local soldiers. They used buckets of water, water squirts and fire hooks. Equipment was stored in local churches.

On Tuesday, King Charles II ordered that houses and shops be pulled down to stop the fire from spreading. By Wednesday, they had the fire under control. Some places still smouldered for months afterwards. Only 51 churches and about 9000 houses were rebuilt. St Paul’s Cathedral was ruined, as was the Guildhall (the offices of the Lord Mayor) and 52 livery company halls.
Great Fire of 1666
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