9th April 2019 • News
8 Common Questions about the Great Fire of London
The Great Fire of London was arguably the greatest tragedy of its time. Remarkably just six people were officially recorded to have lost their lives, but the Great Fire rendered almost 85% of London’s population homeless. The fire started at a baker's shop on Pudding Lane and burned for almost five days, destroying over 13,000 tightly packed wooden houses, 87 churches and the iconic landmark, St Paul’s Cathedral.
It had a devastating effect on Londoners and those who fled the fire to fields outside the City stayed there for months, sometimes even years until they believed it was safe to return. It took around 50 years to rebuild the city and it’s still possible to see how the Great Fire has shaped London today; most notably in its irregular web of streets its church ruins.
The Great Fire of London is cemented as one of the most defining incidents in London’s history and is taught in schools across the country. Many myths and tales surround the Fire but theses Q&As about the momentous tragedy answers the most commonly asked questions.
1. When was the Great Fire of London?
The fire started on Sunday, 2nd September 1666. It was a hot, dry and windy evening; the perfect conditions for the rapid spread of fire.
2. How did the Great Fire of London start?
It started at a bakery belonging to the King’s baker, Thomas Farriner. It is believed he initially put out the fire after a spark from his oven hit fuel in his kitchen. Unfortunately, by the early hours of the morning his house was ablaze and the fire began to spread.
3. What damage did the Great Fire of London cause?
436 acres of London were destroyed, including 13,200 houses and 87 churches. Most notably St Paul’s Cathedral was completely gutted. What remained of the Cathedral was unworkable so it was demolished, and nine years later work started on a replacement building. The scale of damage caused is why the event is so steeped in London history.
4. How long did the Great Fire of London last?
The fire ravaged through London for four days, finally ending on Wednesday 5th September 1666.
5. Why did the fire of London last so long?
There are many defining factors that led to the extensive spread and duration of the Great Fire. One was the hot, dry but also windy weather, causing fire to blow through the city. Another is the densely packed wooden houses that couldn’t resist the flames. Finally, there was no national fire service to be called upon to tackle the blaze, so the general public had to throw buckets of water to try and put it out.
6. Did anyone die in the Great Fire of London?
The fire wreaked more havoc on buildings and architecture than it did human life. There are six recorded deaths from the Great Fire of London, but some historians argue that this is because the fire left no evidence of life and many more perished unaccounted for.
7. Did the Great Fire of London stop the spread of the plague?
There are various myths surrounding the Great Fire, so it’s important to identify the Great Fire of London facts. It didn’t stop the spread of the plague. Unfortunately, that’s a romantic spin on the truth; the fire only burned about a quarter of urban London, so wouldn’t have removed the plague completely and records show people continued to die from the plague after the 1666.
8. How do we commemorate the Great Fire of London?
It was decided that a building should be erected to serve as a permanent reminder of the Great Fire. Dr. Robert Hooke and Sir Christopher Wren set about designing The Monument, which was completed in 1677. The Monument is situated 202 feet west of the spot where the fire started on Pudding Lane, and stands 202 feet tall.