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The Great Fire of London

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The Great Fire of
London
The fire started on a Sunday morning, in 2
September 1666 in the king's own bakery in Pudding
Lane in the City. It took hold in Thomas Farryner's
bakery kitchen that night,and it spread swiftly.
A journeyman living above the bakery raised the
alarm. The household jumped to safety from the
roof – except for one maid who became the fire's
first victim. the fire burned fiercely, spreading to
buildings in Thames Street in the south, St Botolph's
Lane in the east and Fish Street Hill.
SUNDAY
By Sunday morning, 300
buildings were in ashes, the
fire had raged down to the
river and the lord mayor was
alternately
ordering
and
begging people to pull down
houses in its path. Many
property owners refused, and
even where buildings were
pulled down, the heat of the
fire was now so intense that it
could 'jump' over firebreaks
and ignite timbers on the far
side.
There was no central firebridge, this way local people tried
to stop the fire using axes and iron fire hooks. This was
quite inefffective so the fire, assisted by the strong winds
burnt out of control. Buildings were full of burnable
materials (oil, pitch (szurok)) which fuelled (tГЎplГЎl) the
fire.
Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth hesitated a
lot which resulted in mayhem.
MONDAY
The fire raged for four nights and days. On Monday the
fire spread to north (City), south (Thames street), east
(St. Botolph’s Lane and Fish street). King Charles,
fearful of public disorder, gave control of the metropolis
to his brother, the duke of York, who set guards to
control looting.
Londoners poured out
of their homes in a
mass exodus, carrying
what possessions they
could away from the
advancing fire.
The price of a cart
(talicska) rose from ЕЃ3
to ЕЃ30 and all boats
were packed.
Lots of them tried to escape with
boats, but the river boats soon
got packed. Those who left by
road went to the high ground of
Moorfields,
Islington
and
Parliament Hill, where they
camped and watched the City
burn.
A diarist, Samuel Pepys wrote
that some families saved their
musical instruments.
TUESDAY
On Tuesday, the fire burned westward and northward
and, after midnight, consumed two great buildings, the
Guildhall and Old St Paul's cathedral.
The stones of Paul's flew like granados’ ' the melting lead
running down the streets in a stream and the very pavements
glowing with fiery redness.�-wrote another diarist.
The fire was checked in the east by gunpowder explosions,
which created large firebreaks and saved the Tower of
London.
In the east: checked by gunpowder explosions, which created
large firebreaks and saved the Tower of London.
In the west: fire leapt the river Fleet, threatened to spread to
Whitehall and the royal palaces.
WEDNESDAY
On Wednesday morning, the wind dropped , the fire lost
intensity and broke up. It became possible to douse the
flames, but people battled for another 36 hours before the
last of the fires were finally extinguished on Thursday night.
The fire destroyed more
than 13,000 houses, 87
parish
churches,
6
chapels,
44
Company
Halls, the Royal Exchange,
the Custom House, St
Paul's
Cathedral,
the
Guildhall, the Bridewell
and other City prisons, the
Session
House,
four
bridges across the Thames
and Fleet rivers, and three
city gates.
Amazingly, only five deaths were documented, but up to
200,000 people were left destitute. the total damage was
estimated at over ВЈ10 million. At least 65,000 and perhaps
almost 80,000 Londoners were made homeless. The fire is
said to have also helped to get rid of the Great Plague which
had hit London in 1665, and killed about 70,000 of the 90,000
population.
The extent of the Great Fire of London 1666
Why could the fire spread so fast?
Timber was the most common
building material, and straw was
laid on floors and stored in
stables and outhouses. Pudding
Lane was a narrow street of
timbered buildings and wattleand-daub shelters, many of
them housing cook shops. It
backed on to Fish Street Hill,
which led to London Bridge,
itself lined with buildings made
of plaster and wood. Many of the
buildings housed storerooms full
of combustible materials such as
oil, pitch, hemp and tar. These
fuelled the fire, and the heat
was so intense that no one could
get close enough to fight the
flames.
There was no central
fire brigade. It had
traditionally been up
to
local
people
themselves to deal
with blazes, dousing
the
flames
with
leather
buckets
of
water
and
beating
them out with staves.
Where
fires
threatened to spread,
people
would
use
axes, ropes and iron
fire hooks to drag
down
wood-frame
buildings and create
firebreaks.
Firehooks
17th century fire engine
Contemporary accounts of the fire
Acount of the Great Fire
in the London Gazette
St. Paul's Cathedral in flames.
Oil painting ca. 1670.
THE HERITAGE OF THE GREAT FIRE
After the Great Fire of London in 1666, a massive rebuilding
programme was needed. At first, it was seen as an
opportunity to improve the layout of the City. As the images
below indicate a number of people like Christopher Wren and
John Evelyn submitted plans for a much more modern city, in
17th century terms, with wide streets and grand squares.
A positive effect of the fire was that the 1665
plague
stopped
spreading,
saving
many
thousands of lives. The flames destroyed
unsanitary housing, killing rats and purging the
capital of infection.
The aftermath of the fire resulted in the building
of 9000 new homes, which cused a labour
shortage. Immigrant workers from other parts of
Britain and from abroad came to the city and
stayed there London’s population rose, by 1700 it
was the largest city in Northern Europe.
One further consequence of the fire was that by
the end of the 17th century: London had three
firebridges: The Fire Office (1680), The friendly
Society (1683), the Hand-in-Hand Office (1696).
Why were there so few deaths from the fire?
The most important factor was that the fire took hold
slowly and lasted only 4 days leaving plenty of time for
people to save not only themselves but many of their
belongings, too.
Records of only five dead (nevertheless the number of the
real dead may have been higher): Thomas Farryner's maidservant; Paul Lowell, a Shoe Lane watchmaker; an old man
who went to rescue a blanket from St Paul's and was
overcome by smoke; and two others who fell into cellars
while rescuing their belongings.
The main memorial to
the fire is the famous
Monument, designed by
Sir Christopher Wren. It
is 202ft tall, being the
exact distance from the
baker's house where the
fire began in Pudding
Lane. Visitors can climb
the 311 steps to the top
and enjoy spectacular
views of London.
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