Great Fire of London

A painting showing the great fire of London, 4 September 1666, as seen from a boat in vicinity of Tower Wharf
The Great Fire of London by an unknown painter, depicting the fire as it would have appeared on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666 from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf. The Tower of London is on the right and London Bridge on the left, with St Paul's Cathedral in the distance, surrounded by the tallest flames.

The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. [1] The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman city wall. It threatened but did not reach the aristocratic district of Westminster, Charles II's Palace of Whitehall, and most of the suburban slums. [2] It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St Paul's Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. It is estimated to have destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City's 80,000 inhabitants. [3]

The death toll is unknown but traditionally thought to have been small, as only six verified deaths were recorded. This reasoning has recently been challenged on the grounds that the deaths of poor and middle-class people were not recorded, while the heat of the fire may have cremated many victims, leaving no recognisable remains. A melted piece of pottery on display at the Museum of London found by archaeologists in Pudding Lane, where the fire started, shows that the temperature reached 1250 °C. [4]

Origin and consequences of the fire

The Great Fire started at the bakery (or baker's house) of Thomas Farriner (or Farynor) on Pudding Lane shortly after midnight on Sunday, 2 September and spread rapidly west across the City of London. The major firefighting technique of the time was to create firebreaks by means of demolition; this, however, was critically delayed owing to the indecisiveness of Lord Mayor of London Sir Thomas Bloodworth. By the time that large-scale demolitions were ordered on Sunday night, the wind had already fanned the bakery fire into a firestorm that defeated such measures. The fire pushed north on Monday into the heart of the City.

Order in the streets broke down as rumours arose of suspicious foreigners setting fires. The fears of the homeless focused on the French and Dutch, England's enemies in the ongoing Second Anglo-Dutch War; these substantial immigrant groups became victims of lynchings and street violence. On Tuesday, the fire spread over most of the City, destroying St Paul's Cathedral and leaping the River Fleet to threaten Charles II's court at Whitehall, while coordinated firefighting efforts were simultaneously mobilising. The battle to quench the fire is considered to have been won by two factors: the strong east winds died down, and the Tower of London garrison used gunpowder to create effective firebreaks to halt further spread eastward.

The social and economic problems created by the disaster were overwhelming. Evacuation from London and resettlement elsewhere were strongly encouraged by Charles II, who feared a London rebellion amongst the dispossessed refugees. Despite numerous radical proposals, London was reconstructed on essentially the same street plan used before the fire. [5]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Пажар у Лёндане 1666 году
한국어: 런던 대화재
Bahasa Indonesia: Kebakaran Besar London
Bahasa Melayu: Kebakaran Besar London
Simple English: Great Fire of London
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Veliki požar u Londonu
粵語: 倫敦大火
中文: 倫敦大火