On 2 September , the citizens of London woke to see the skyline above the city's cramped wooden houses ablaze. It must have been a truly apocalyptic sight. Londoners had already lived through the devastating plague in So it was a tribute to their tenacity that they managed to pick themselves up again after the medieval city went up in smoke over just four days.
The fire started in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane in the early hours of the morning. By the time it burned out on 5 September around 13, buildings had been destroyed, including the original St Paul's Cathedral, 87 parish churches, the Guildhall , the Royal Exchange and 52 company halls.
Great Fire of London: how London changed - The National Archives
Between 65, and 80, people lost their homes, although thankfully only a handful were recorded as having been killed. Soon after the fire, several designs were put forward for the redevelopment of London; among them one from Christopher Wren, a favourite of King Charles II. A common theme was streets radiating out from the river and intersecting with others running parallel to it. However, a lack of money to buy the land and the need to rebuild quickly thwarted all the grand ideas.
Instead, nearly 3, houses were built within the first three years, mostly back on the original layout.
From the Inn, the fire spread to Thames Street, where riverfront warehouses were packed full with flammable materials such as tallow for candles, lamp oil, spirits, and coal. These stores lit aflame or exploded, transforming the fire into an uncontrollable blaze.
Bucket-bearing locals abandoned their futile efforts at firefighting and rushed home to evacuate their families and save their valuables. It had been a hot, dry summer, and a strong wind further encouraged the flames. As the conflagration grew, city authorities struggled to tear down buildings and create a firebreak, but the flames repeatedly overtook them before they could complete their work. People fled into the Thames River dragging their possessions, and the homeless took refuge in the hills on the outskirts of London.
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Light from the Great Fire could be seen 30 miles away. On September 5, the fire slackened, and on September 6 it was brought under control. That evening, flames again burst forth in the Temple the legal district , but the explosion of buildings with gunpowder extinguished the flames. The Great Fire of London engulfed 13, houses, nearly 90 churches, and scores of public buildings. The old St.
The Great Fire of London
As estimated , people were left homeless. Within days, King Charles II set about rebuilding his capital. The great architect Sir Christopher Wren designed a new St.
To prevent future fires, most new houses were built of brick or stone and separated by thicker walls. Narrow alleyways were forbidden and streets were made wider.
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Permanent fire departments, however, did not become a fixture in London until well into the 18th century. In the s, a memorial column commemorating the Great Fire of London was erected near the source of the calamity.
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Known as the Memorial, it was probably designed by the architect Robert Hooke, though some sources credit Christopher Wren. The column stands feet above the pavement and features sculpture and engravings that tell the story of the conflagration. Members of the Worshipful Company of Bakers gathered on Pudding Lane and unveiled a plaque acknowledging that one of their own, Thomas Farrinor, was guilty of causing the Great Fire of But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!
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