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The Fire Of London 1666

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The Great Fire of London was a disaster that spread throughout the City of London in September 1666. Preceded by bubonic plague which struck England in 1665, the fire was another disastrous event that threatened Londoners in the seventeenth century. Medieval in its street plan, the City of London with timber buildings and very narrow streets had been threatened by several minor fires before. Yet the risk of the fire of 1666 was increased by a long period of severe drought and exceptionally hot summer of 1666 combined with the strong east wind.

The fire is supposed to have started at the bakery of Thomas Farynor in Pudding Lane on the night of 2 September 1666. The baker's family managed to escape, with the exception of the maid, who became one of the four officially recorded victims of the fire. Despite the desperate attempts of the inhabitants of neighbouring buildings to put out the fire, flames swept through the city rapidly, which made the parish constables choose a very drastic method of preventing the spread of the fire, namely by demolishing houses and thus creating firebreaks. However, due to the indecisiveness and poor leadership of the Lord Mayor Sir Thomas Bloodworth, who was notified of the disaster, demolition was postponed, which resulted in the fire spread.

On Sunday morning the flames reached London Bridge and the streets of London were crowded with people who abandoned their houses and were trying to leave the city. Although King Charles II, informed of the disastrous fire by Samuel Pepys, a diarist of that time, urgently summoned the military to demolish buildings to stop the fire, the devastating force of the flames advanced, destroying Gracechurch Street, the Royal Exchange and threatening Cheapside, London's most affluent street.

Tuesday, 4 September, turned out to be the most dramatic day of the fire since the flames reached Newgate and Ludgate prisons, Fleet Street and on Tuesday night devoured St. Paul's Cathedral.



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