Today marks the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of 1666.
What was a small fire that started just after midnight at the bakery of Thomas Farriner in Pudding Lane, swept west across the city causing devastation inside the Roman city walls, spreading as far as Fleet Street. The fire raged for three days, destroying over 13,000 houses, more than 80 churches, the Royal Exchange, Custom House and St Paul’s Cathedral.
(Merian’s 1690 Abbildung der Statt London, his eye-witness account of London engulfed in flames).
The damage caused is estimated to have cost around an excruciating £37bn in today’s money. After the embers of the fire had finally burnt out, the rebuilding of the city began with the likes of John Evelyn and Sir Christopher Wren taking centre stage with their designs. It was paramount that things were put in place that would protect citizens from this scale of loss happening again. In 1681, Londoners were offered Fire Insurance for the first time.
This is Edward Hatton’s 1708 map of London, describing the city before The Great Fire. [LDN4771]
Hatton was a surveyor for a fire insurance company. In 1708, the company anonymously published A New View of London: or, an Ample Account of that City, in Two Volumes, or Eight Sections. &c., featuring the aforementioned map. The source for the map was Braun & Hogenberg’s map of London [LDN5335], published in 1572 (The very first available map of London).
A monument designed by Sir Christopher Wren and constructed between 1671 and 1677, was erected to commemorate The Great Fire on the very spot the fire started.
(John Stow’s sectional map showing Pudding Lane and The Monument, 1755 [LDN5628])