The Great Fire of London

par 2nde5_6 SE


The Great Fire of London began on the night of September 2nd, 1666, as a small fire on Pudding Lane, in the bakery of Thomas Farynor, King Charles II’s baker. His maid was wrong with the ovens at the end of the night. The heat created by the ovens caused sparks which ignited the wooden home of Farynor. In her panic, the maid tried to climb out of the building but failed. She was one of the few victims of the fire.

In 1666, most London houses were of wood and pitch construction, dangerously flammable, and it did not take long for the fire to expand. The streets were narrow. The firemen said : "a city dominated by old, dry, wooden structures, tighty packed into a confined space just waiting for a spark to ignite disaster."

The many wooden buildings in London favoured fire progress.
The flames were nourished of : oil, hay, timber, coal and spirits along with other combustibles.

The fire went to the Roman wall, crossed it and threatened the district of Westminster where the palace of Whitehall (the residence of King Charles II) is located.

Some rumours said that group of people have put buildings on fire. There were many French and Dutch in London. But, as France and Holland were not in good terms with England, French and Dutch were accused by Londoners and lynched by these ones.

Although the loss of human life was minimal, the extent of the material destruction was large. Some 430 acres, as much as 80% of the city was destroyed, including 13 200 houses, 89 churches, 52 Guild Halls and St Paul’s Cathedral. Thousands of citizens found themselves homeless and financially ruined.

The one positive effect of the Great Fire of London was that the plague, which had ravished London since 1665, diminished greatly, due to the mass death of rats.

Finally, thanks to fading of the strong winds and to the use of gunpowder from the Tower of London in order to create firebreaks to prevent fire spread, the fire was controlled and put out on Wednesday, September 5th.