We’re off on a journey back in time to learn about one seriously hot topic. Fancy joining? Then check out our Great Fire of London facts

The Great Fire of London facts

Great Fire of London Facts - London's burning

When was the Great Fire of London?

The Great Fire of London started at around 1am on Sunday 2 September 1666.  And boy did it burn! The fire raged for four days straight, until its final fizzles were extinguished on Thursday 6 September 1666. 

What caused the Great Fire of London?

The fire started in the home of a baker named Thomas Farynor (Farriner), located on London’s Pudding Lane. Thomas wasn’t your average baker, though – he was King Charles II’s baker. Impressive, eh?

It’s thought the fire started when a spark fell out of the oven after the family had gone to bed. Uh oh! However, Thomas denied this theory until the day he died, claiming his oven was put out properly.

One thing’s for sure though – however the the fire started, it brought complete devastation to the city of London

London’s burning!

Great Fire of London Facts - before the fire

In 17th century London, not only were buildings made from wood and straw, but they stood very close together, making it easy for fire to spread. Plus, warehouses around Pudding Lane contained flammable materials such as oil and rope which soon caught alight, fuelling the flames! The long, dry summer that year didn’t help the situation much either….

Within just a few hours, London Bridge by the River Thames was burning. For the next four days, the fire continued to spread through the city, propelled by strong winds.

Put it out!

Great Fire of London Facts - flames

Rather than fight the fire, people’s first reaction was to get away from the raging flames as quickly as possible – and who could blame them?! In a state of panic, they collected all the belongings they could carry and fled. Some sprinted to the hills, while others fled to the River Thames, where they boarded boats. Thomas and his family sure didn’t stick around – they escaped through their upstairs window and onto the neighbour’s roof!

Back then, there was no fire brigade in London, which meant it was up to local soldiers as well as regular Londoners to fight the fire. But how? Well, they did the best they could with the limited equipment they had – leather buckets filled with water and water squirts. Doesn’t sound promising, does it?

They also used metal hooks to pull down buildings and create open spaces so the fire couldn’t spread. But strong winds meant the fire crossed these “fire breaks”, and continued its course of chaos….

It wasn’t until the third night of the blaze, Tuesday 4 September, that the fire was brought under control. Instead of tearing buildings down, the Navy was called upon to blow them up with gunpowder, creating larger fire breaks. Boom!

The wind had finally started to die down, too, which helped to stop the flames from spreading. More buildings were destroyed the following day, and by Thursday the fire was extinguished. Phew!

Did you know…?

Most of what we know about the Great Fire of London came from the diaries of two men called Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, who both left eyewitness accounts of this famous tragedy.

The damage is done…

So what was left of London after the Great Fire? Not a whole lot, is the quick answer! A third of the city had been destroyed – an area the size of around 280 football pitches! About 13,200 houses and 87 churches were burned to the ground, as well as famous buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral and The Royal Exchange. Surprisingly, only six official deaths were recorded…but the actual figure is likely to be much higher. 

In the aftermath of the disaster, London was a place of desperation. With 70,000 people left homeless, theft and other crimes swept what was left of the city, as well as sickness and disease. Temporary buildings and camps were made to shelter people through the winter, whilst lots of work and money went into rebuilding the burned down areas – a process that took nearly 50 years

The road to recovery – a new London!

Great Fire of London Facts - St Paul's

There is no doubt that the Great Fire was an awful tragedy – but it did lead to some positive changes to London. The city was rebuilt in a safer and more organised way, so that such a disaster would not happen again. Streets were made wider, and buildings were made from brick or stone (rather than wood), with better access to water. What’s more, London’s first fire brigades were formed to tackle any future blazes that might break out. What a relief!

The recovery of the city also saw the rise of a number of beautiful and iconic buildings like St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was redesigned by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. Christopher also designed the famous Monument to the Great Fire of London, which stands near to Pudding Lane, so that this important historical event would never be forgotten.

What do you think of our Great Fire of London facts? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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COMMENTS

  • Smart Cookie

    WOW! I NEVER KNEW THIS

  • Jenay

    This is so cool I didn’t know most of these facts. AWSOME!

  • Trent

    Wow!I love these facts. I actually never knew there was a great fire in London before.

  • Icat

    Wow I would not want to live there at that time!

  • Ethan

    We are learning about this.Epic!

  • bannana

    crazy

  • Buildingblocker1

    I love these facts they are so interesting and is it the bakers fault.

  • Caedmon Dayao

    I Loved it

  • rogan wang

    Ahhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!COOL

  • Hogwarts kitty

    I learnt about the great fire of London way back in year two, and not only did it build upon my knowledge, but ... wow! wow! wow!

  • Liam

    That's very sad for the people of London but at least they made the city better after the fire. :{

  • Eric

    Good

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    WOW!

  • Freya

    COOL!

  • Emilia

    I never knew about the Great Fire . I forgot all about the Great Fire.

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    i know everything about the great fire of London well done to everyone who created this website i love it

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  • someone WOOOH

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  • Amelia

    Cool

  • scary, really scary

  • jonathanf

    wow...such a disaster.

  • Fran

    Wow... such a disaster!

  • Maeve & Tara Cleary

    Interesting, very interesting.

  • kikiunicorn4444

    poor london in 1666

  • nice

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    WOW! INTEVESTING FACTS I LOVE IT.

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    wow

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    Sooooooo cool

  • Romeo

    This was very informative.

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    I love it

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    Fantastic, that was so great!

  • anynomyous

    sad how many people were homeless but now there prepared

  • no

    so good

  • the flash

    amazing this information was really useful

  • Tyler

    Cool

  • playergirl188

    I love this information. Wow!

  • Chris

    Epic and fun

  • Jauna

    Great and pretty exiting

  • Essie

    I love history!

  • SK

    BRILLIANT!!!

  • Mya

    Amazing!

  • Hannah010709

    So scary...

  • person

    wow!!!! this was so cool to learn about!!!!

  • aishaT

    it was very informative

  • AdamWH8

    Awesome!!!!!!!!!

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    i thought this is really *sighs* AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

  • sophia

    good

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    THIS IS SO COOL!!!!

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    cool.

  • HermionEmma

    Wow!!

  • HermionEmma

    These facts blow me away!!!

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  • Panda

    I love this website is amazing

  • Kittykat

    I wish it was more scary

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  • JESS6086

    this whole website is amazing!!!

  • John234

    these facts are interesting!!!

  • lewis12273

    I loved it

  • KatrinaPlayzRobloXD

    That was such a great amount of info, now I now way more than what Horrible Histories told meh.

  • lala3000

    wow !

  • Carter

    that would be scary

  • WOW

  • Kk

    I feel relieved they fixed that otherwise london will be pretty much gone

  • i hope that dosenot happen again

  • rse5r6ytghfdgr

    that was a extreme fire fire.

  • matilda

    so cool nat geo is epic!

  • I never knew this. WOW

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  • Meshe

    Wow I LOVE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SO MUCH

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    Wow!

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  • Mateo

    Wow! keep those outstanding facts up!

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