The Great Fire of London of 1666

The Great Fire of London of 1666

The city ​​of London It is one of the European cities with the best structure and beauty in its architectural samples. But what is the origin of this structure? It was not due to a planned remodeling to beautify the city as such, but is the consequence of a tragic event: the great fire of London that devastated much of the city in the 17th century.

Causes of the great fire of London

The great fire of london started sunday night September 2, 1666 at the home of renowned baker John Farynor situated in Pudding Lane, one of the most populated areas of old medieval London. It was not just any worker, but had been the baker of the King Charles II during the previous five years.

That day Farynor had been working in the bakery downstairs from his house. When he went to sleep, he did not notice that flames were still burning in the oven. The fire grew and in the early morning it ignited a pile of hay that was nearby, gradually burning the rest of the enclosure.

In that area of ​​the city it was not uncommon for there to be fires every so often, after all the buildings were mostly made of wood and their pillars were soaked in tar, a highly flammable material.

A short time before, the king had written to the mayor of the city that the rules to stop firesBut since the incidents that had occurred previously had been easily controlled it was not given importance.

Given this background, when the mayor arrived at the place where the fire had occurred, he did not give it importance, thinking that it would soon come to an end. The king was not even informed until late in the day.

But nevertheless, the fire kept advancing and in the middle of the afternoon the flames reached the area of Thames River where there were warehouses of materials such as wood, coal, brandy and oil, which were blown up one by one. One of the main factors that helped spread the fire was a strong, very dry wind blowing to the west of the city.

At that time the system to stop the fires consisted of demolishing buildings to act as a firewall. It was attempted to be carried out but too late because of the mayor's insistence that it could be put down in a short time. Seeing this situation, the firefighters decided to break the pipes to obtain water more quickly, with the consequent cut of supply throughout the area. In addition, the narrowness of the streets prevented work easily and quickly.

The fire lasted until Wednesday, September 5. During Monday the fire spread to the north of the city. The tranquility in the streets was disturbed due to the incessant rumors that suggested that the fire had been caused by foreigners such as the French or the Dutch, enemies at that time of England. The population did not hesitate to persecute these immigrant groups and attack them.

Throughout Tuesday, the fire continued to spread through most of the city, destroying important buildings such as St. Paul's Cathedral, where the heat caused the stone to explode, exposing ancient tombs and mummified remains.

He reached River Fleet, destroyed Baynard Castle and threatened the Whitehall Court of Charles II. Some businesses in the London Bridge area were also affected and small fires broke out in Southwark. The main financial centers of the city, the Guildhall and the Royal Exchante, were devastated.

Until the night of the next day, Wednesday, the fire could not be controlled and put out, mainly thanks to the intervention of the king himself. Then they began to count the disasters it had caused: 13,000 houses were destroyed, some 90 churches were affected and some 300 acres of land had been razed.

Most of the damage was material since most of the inhabitants had time to escape, although the theory is also maintained that the fire reached such temperatures that it reduced the bodies of the deceased to ashes, so there is no record of the people who lived there. it is known exactly how many died.

Even though that him fire As such it had been extinguished, it would still take weeks to put out all the small bulbs that were still burning. Months later, some basements in the area were still burning. They began to think about how to rebuild and remodel that part of the city. Due to the experience, they decided to make improvements in issues such as hygiene and of course fire safety building wider streets and with buildings of brick and stone instead of wood.

Two monuments indicate the extent of the catastrophe. One, known as'The Monument', It is a 61-meter-high column that is located in the place where the fire occurred. It was designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke. The other is called 'Golden Boy of Pye Corner' in Smithfield and points to the place where the fire stopped.

Image Big fire: Dutch School painting (not dated or signed). Public domain.
Image Golden Boy of Pye Corner: geograph

Graduated in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was little I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.

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