The Great Fire of London 1666

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Great Fire of London

This timeline is a chronology of the Great Fire of London September 1666

Please note that some times given are approximations determined by the sequence of events for that day as noted in relevant sources.

See also: The Great Plague 1665

 

1559 (during)
Daniel Baker had warned that London would be destroyed by ‘a consuming fire’.
1661 (during)
King Charles II ordered that overhanging windows and jetties should not be built. However, the order was ignored by the councillors of London.
1665 (April)
King Charles II spoke to the Lord Mayor of London, Thomas Bloodworth, and warned him of the danger of fire in the city due to the narrow streets and overhanging wooden houses.
1666 Sunday 2nd September 1 am
A fire broke out in the house of baker Thomas Farriner in Pudding Lane. The baker and his family escaped through an upstairs window. A maid who refused to climb over the rooftops died in the fire.
1666 Sunday 2nd September 3 am
The fire had grown so large that it could be seen a quarter of a mile away. The Mayor of London, Thomas Bloodworth was woken and told the news but he took no action.
1666 Sunday 2nd September 5 am
The Lord Mayor was advised to destroy houses in the path of the fire to stop it spreading. He ignored the order since he did not want to have to pay for the rebuilding of the demolished houses.
1666 Sunday 2nd September 7 am
Samuel Pepys’ maid told him that more than 300 houses had been destroyed by the fire.
1666 Sunday 2nd September 10 am
The streets of London were filled with people who had learned of the fire and were scared that they would be caught up in the fire. Samuel Pepys went to look at the fire himself then went to tell the King. He was concerned that people were fleeing London rather than trying to help put the fire out.
1666 Sunday 2nd September 10 pm
The fire had spread and now covered an area half a mile to the east and north of Pudding Lane. King Charles II ordered the Lord Mayor to pull down houses in the path of the fire and stop it from spreading. King Charles’s brother, James, offered the Lord Mayor soldiers to help pull down houses in the path of the fire but the Mayor refused.
1666 Monday 3rd September 6 am
The fire continued to spread due to hot dry and windy weather conditions. Many people packed their goods onto boats on the River Thames. The General Letter Office in Threadneedle Street burned down destroying correspondence that was waiting for delivery.
1666 Monday 3rd September 9 am
King Charles II put his brother James in charge of organising fire fighting in the city when it appeared that the Lord Mayor had left the city.
1666 Monday 3rd September 11 am
People were prohibited from bringing carts near the fire. The order was made to try to get people to leave the area of the fire. However, people were desperate to salvage what they could from their homes before packing carts and trying to flee the city. Those with carts to hire made huge sums of money as they charged as much as £40 per cart.
1666 Monday 3rd September 2 pm
The fire reached the banking region of the city and it was feared that the heat of the fire would melt gold coins. Bankers hurriedly removed coins from the area.
1666 Monday 3rd September 8 pm
An easterly wind prevented the fire from spreading to far to the east and the river Thames had largely halted the fire in the South. However it was just yards from the Tower of London where many people had put their valuables for safe keeping and full attention was put to preserving the building.
1666 Tuesday 4th September 7 am
The fire continued to burn despite the best efforts of fire fighters. The weather was hot and windy which helped to fan the fire.
1666 Tuesday 4th September 12 noon
King Charles II joined the lines of people passing buckets of water to pour on the flames. His brother James had stationed himself near the River Fleet where he hoped the river would halt the fire but the easterly wind blew the flames across and the fire burned on.
1666 Tuesday 4th September 4 pm
A large firebreak had been created by James to the north of the fire which had held the flames back but suddenly the flames leapt across the break.
1666 Tuesday 4th September 8 pm
The roof of St Paul’s Cathedral caught fire. It is believed that the fire reached the Cathedral because wooden scaffolding had been erected for some building work to be carried out. Molten lead from the Cathedral roof ran down the streets.
1666 Wednesday 5th September 7 am
The wind had dropped and although the fire was still burning it was not spreading so much.
1666 Wednesday 5th September 12 noon
A number of houses were pulled down in Cripplegate which stopped the spread of the fire. People had made makeshift tents with their salvaged possessions in Moorfields, a large public park to the north of the city. Around the park area the price of bread had doubled in price from the previous week.
1666 Wednesday 5th September 8 pm
The fires in the west of the city had been put out. A light in the sky to the north started a rumour that French and Dutch immigrants were marching to Moorfields and would kill all survivors. The rumour caused widespread panic.
1666 Thursday 6th September
The fire was finally extinguished. The damage to London was immense. 87 churches including St Paul’s Cathedral and 13,200 houses had been destroyed. Only 6 people were officially recorded as having lost their lives in the blaze. However, modern historians believe the death toll to have been much higher since the intensity of the blaze would have left no sign of any bodies.

 

Published Sept 27, 2018 @ 11:30 am – Updated – Sep 27, 2018 @ 11:30 am

 

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018). The Great Fire of London 1666. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/the-great-fire-of-london-1666. Last accessed October 15th, 2018

 

 

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