As beautiful and historically significant it is, London also experienced several catastrophic events throughout its history. The Great Fire of London which took place in 1666 was one of those events that devastated the population. The aftermath left a lot of residential and governmental buildings in the ruins.
We decided to write some facts about the Great Fire of London since it is a historically significant event. We are hoping each of these facts will describe the bigger picture of the event and explain losses and causes of this artificial disaster.
FACTS ABOUT THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON: 1-10
1. The Great Fire of London took place between 2-6 September of 1666 near the London Bridge.
2. It was believed that The King’s bakery in Pudding Lane was the starting point of the fire. However, Thomas Farriner owner of the bakery denied leaving anything amiss that could have potentially led to the fire.
3. The fire kept intensifying because London had so many wooden building. Plus, during the time, London was experiencing a dry season, and strong east winds also contributed to the worsening of the fire.
4. The fires were common in London during that time. For that reason, when the Mayor of the City Sir Thomas Bloodworth was woken up to inform about the fire, he replied “Pish! A woman might piss it out!”. However, it was not the usual fire that London was experiencing regularly. It was much more devastating and much more costly.
5. French watchmaker Robert Hubert was hung as a starter of the fire after giving a false confession. He told people that he had thrown a fireball out of the window at the Pudding Lane. Most people, however, believed his innocence.
6. Some London residents blamed foreigners for starting the fire. Those rumors have led to the street violence where French and Dutch immigrant groups were the main victims. Since the event took place during the Anglo-Dutch war, Londoners scapegoated their war opponents.
7. When the administrator of the navy of England and the diarist Samuel Pepys informed King Charles II about the fire, the king ordered to tear down the buildings from the fire’s path. Pulling down the houses during a fire was one of the effective ways of preventing a fire from spreading. This firefighting tactic was practiced a lot during those times.
8. During the Great Fire of London, the city did not have organized fire brigade. Because of that, the situation became the responsibility of citizens who vigorously fought against the fire using leather buckets and water squirts. However, tiresome efforts fall short to ease devastating blaze.
9. King Charles II also showed his firefighting efforts using a bucket. There two groups of historians who debate the main intentions of the king. The first group praises the King’s efforts in extinguishing the fire. And, they believe that Charles II did such brave actions for the sake of his people. The second group however confidently state that the King decided to join the chain of bucket passers for his selfish reasons. In other words, he has done it to improve his fame and popularity.
10. The great fire of London destroyed well over 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, and several government buildings along with St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was estimated that about 70,000 people lost their homes to the disaster. Some people lost their livelihood and belongings, just saving their God-given lives. All of the losses contributed to the appearance of high numbers of homeless in the city.
FACTS ABOUT THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON:11-15
Diarist Samuel Pepys wrote the eyewitness accounts of the Great Fire of London in his diary. Nowadays, he is considered one of the best diarists in the world because of his frank records in his diary. He did not even try to hide his own weaknesses. As he described in his diary, he saw the glimpse of the great fire out of his window around 4 am. However, suspecting the fire to be one of the regular London fires, he went back to sleep. Only the next morning he learned the severity of the fire.
Only 6 people died as a result of the fire, but some historians suggest that death count might have been a lot higher. 6 deaths from the that big of a fire is a miracle. Some people, however, do not believe that miracle, instead, they believe in miscalculations. The death of the poor and some of the middle-class population mostly has not been recorded during that time. Moreover, the fire was so powerful that might have cremated the bodies and turned them into ashes.
Unable to carry their belongings, people buried their valuables before leaving their homes. Samuel Pepys buried his wines and his favorite parmesan cheese. Yes, you got me right. He buried his cheese. He even wrote that in his diary. But, why Cheese? Aged cheese was also considered valuable item back then. It was believed that the cheese Pepys buried was at least 2000 years old. Fortunately, the fire died out before it could reach his property. However, nobody knows the fate of the cheese and Pepys himself did not write about it either.
The fire was stopped from spreading after the Navy blow up the buildings to clear the pathway of the fire. By dismantling buildings and creating a zone free from flammable objects, firefighters could block the spreading. Nature also gave some mercy by calming its strong east winds.
The great fire cost about 13 million dollars to the city of London. It took over 30 years to rebuild the city. Sir Christopher Wren was chosen as one of the lead planners of the rebuilding operations. He was responsible for rebuilding 52 churches and redesigning the damaged St. Paul’s Cathedral. In order to mark the tragedy, 202 feet (62 meters) tall monument was constructed in the spot where the Great Fire of London had started.