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The Great Fire of London
The Monument in the City of London.

The Great Fire of London

Early one September, following an unusually long, hot and dry summer, a fire broke out in a small property at the heart of the city. Fanned on by a wind from the east, and fuelled by the nearby warehouses full of combustible materials, the fire spread slowly but steadily. It swept through a large part of the city and burnt on for days.

This fire is said to have been the origins of the traditional song ‘London’s Burning’ and its flagrant destruction is seen as one of the most important events in the story of London. The story of the city’s rebuilding shows us the true indomitable spirit of Londoners - a spirit which has been seen again in times of crisis since, such as the destruction the city witnessed during the Blitz.

Whilst the politicians and men of power were busy discussing their ideas for a rebuilding and redesign of the city, the townsfolk went back to their homes and businesses. As soon as the earth had cooled enough to walk on, they undertook the mighty task of getting back to business.They needed their sources of income to be re-established and wanted to protect ownership of their previous plots of land. Today the fire is commemorated by ‘The Monument’, which stands on Fish Street Hill keeping a watchful eye over the city below.

1.
At Pye Corner what marks the spot where the fire is said to have been stopped?
A tombstone with the names of those listed as having died
A large statue of Jesus
A statue of a golden boy
A symbolic water pump
There is a statue of a golden boy at Pye Corner that is thought to represent gluttony. As the fire started in Pudding Lane and ended at Pye Corner, some people thought it was caused by the sin of gluttony!
2.
In which street did the fire start?
Pudding Lane
Bread Street
Milk Street
Honey Lane
All of these streets actually still exist today very near to the site. They made up part of the great market of Cheapside and were named after what was commonly sold in them. Have a look for others nearby!
3.
The Great Fire of London broke out in September of which year?
1066
1666
1696
1966
The fire started on the 2nd of September and lasted almost 5 days
4.
How many people are recorded as dying in the fire?
Fewer than 10
Between 50 and 500
1,000
5,000
Official records register between 4-8 deaths directly attributable to the fire. Why do you think this might be? Perhaps records were lost or the death of the homeless went unregistered? No one can be sure
5.
Thomas Farriner was the property owner on whose premises the fire first broke out. What was he?
A butcher
A baker
A candlestick maker
A fisherman
Thomas Farriner was the King’s baker who supplied the Navy with ship's biscuits
6.
When told of the risk the fire posed, the Lord Mayor at the time, Thomas Bloodworth, is noted as having replied with words to the effect of ...?
Pah! A woman might pee it out
My word, the King will have me hanged!
Fetch me my horse, I must reassure the townsfolk to avert panic?
Doesn’t everyone know it is dangerous to play with matches?
The slow response and action of the Lord Mayor is one of the factors that contributed to the eventual extent of the fire
7.
At the time many people thought the fire had been started deliberately. Who did they blame?
Wayward teenagers
A local witch
God - the fire was a sign of his wrath
Catholics
This is less surprising if we think of how unsettled Londoners might have felt in those years, not long after the turbulence of the Reformation and the Civil War. A frieze on the north side of the monument describes how the fire started, how much damage it caused, and how it was eventually extinguished. In 1681, the words "but Popish frenzy, which wrought such horrors, is not yet quenched" were added to the end of the inscription. These words were chiselled out in 1830
8.
Samuel Pepys, the famous London diarist who lived through the fire, is said to have buried what for safekeeping?
His diaries
His stamp collection
His gold coins
His wine and cheese
Samuel Pepys did in fact bury his wine and Parmesan cheese. Pepys wrote: “And in the evening Sir W. Pen and I did dig another [hole], and put our wine in it; and I my Parmazan cheese, as well as my wine and some other things.”
9.
Roughly what proportion of London was destroyed by the fire?
A quarter
A third
A half
Nine-tenths
According to the Museum of London, one third of the total size of London at the time burnt down equating to 436 acres (373 acres within the City walls and 63 outside). Accounts vary with some sources commonly claiming up to 4/5th of the City was destroyed
10.
The Monument erected to commemorate the fire was also originally intended to be used as a what?
Telescope
Dovecote
Place of pilgrimage
Pulpit
Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke built the monument to also serve as a telescope. There is a hinged lid at the top that opened. Unfortunately the plan wasn’t a success as the ground reverberations caused by the heavy flow of nearby traffic affected the instrument’s accuracy

 

Author:  Augusta Harris

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