Friday 2nd September 2016 marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. After the Great Plague of 1665, which was spread by fleas and had killed a sixth of the people living in London, the Great Fire of London flared up and destroyed many of the old houses. A new London was built from the ashes of the old city and many of the disease ridden streets were gone forever. In memory of the fire we are releasing a set of worksheets which cover the fire itself and what happened afterwards. We have also produced some pages using first-hand accounts from Samuel Pepys’ diary
The Great Fire of London started not long after midnight on Sunday 2nd September 1666 in Thomas Farriner’s bakery in Pudding Lane. It quickly spread out of control and within four days, four fifths of London had been damaged or destroyed. Many people from nearby villages and parts of London not yet alight went to see the fire burning. One of those people was Samuel Pepys, an administrator in the Royal Navy.
Samuel Pepys kept a diary between 1660 and 1669 and we are lucky enough to be able to read some of his accounts of the fire. He describes London burning and how he informed King Charles II about the fire. Worried that his own house would catch on fire, Samuel moved his things to the safety of a friend’s house. Not sure what to do with his wine he dug a hole in his garden and buried it, along with his parmesan cheese!
By the time the fire had ended over 13 000 private buildings and 87 churches had been destroyed. The ground was so hot in many places that it was impossible to walk on it for several days. A new London was built, with strict regulations on the size and method of building in the hope of preventing another fire. Architect Sir Christopher Wren was responsible for designing many of the new buildings, including the new St Paul’s Cathedral.