Marking the Great Fire of London might seem an unusual celebration for any of us to get involved with.
After all, the blaze which started 350 years ago this week in Pudding Lane ripped the heart out of the English capital and destroyed around 13,200 homes.
But amid all the destruction and death was an event which changed the face of the capital for ever, and gave birth to the modern UK capital which more than 8.6 million call home.
If you’re in the city over the next 10 days and feel like you want to know more about the events of 1666, there’s plenty for you to get involved with.
But even if you’re not, here’s everything you need to know about the Great Fire of London.
The year after the Great Plague killed about 200,000 people around the country, a freak spark in a bakery in the English capital began the most fearsome blaze in memory.
It’s largely credited with clearing the last vestiges of the bubonic disease from city streets by killing rats who were still carrier – but it also destroyed much of the medieval metropolis inside the Roman walls which had formed its defences for centuries.
It broke out in the early hours of Sunday September 2, 1666 and raged until September 5, causing property damage, death and destruction of the recognisable face of the city.
Thomas Farriner’s Pudding Lane bakery has been blamed for the Great Fire. A spark from his oven is thought to have started the inferno that obliterated 350 acres.
From Pudding Lane – off Eastcheap, near London Bridge and the Monument, in the historic City of London – it spread until just one fifth of the walled city remained.
When the Lord Mayor of London Sir Thomas Bloodworth was roused from a slumber to be told about the fire, he reportedly replied “Pish! A woman might p*** it out!”.
He was mistaken.
After a hot summer, many of the wooden houses were tinder dry.
Coupled with that, the streets lined with residences were so narrow that the upper stories almost touched across winding lanes.
The blaze was fanned by east wind, and even though gunpowder was used to blow up houses that lay in the path of the fire and create fire breaks, they were regularly breached.
The size and speed of the fire panicked Londoners, many of whom fled the walled city to seek safety in the country beyond
Some boarded boats on the River Thames, others sought refuge in St Paul’s Cathedral.
But even St Paul’s was burnt to the ground.
An 80-year-old granddad’s family begged him to flee as flames roared towards his home. But he refused to leave.
After the Great Fire of London had passed, they found his body huddled in the cellar. Next to him was a pitiful relic – the key to his beloved house.
That key, and other artefacts from the blaze, are now on display at the Museum of London .
The fire swallowed 400 streets, 13,200 houses, 87 churches, and 44 livery halls.
Virtually all the civic buildings had been destroyed, as well as Baynard’s Castle, the medieval setting for the coronations of Edward IV and Mary I, and St Paul’s.
An estimated 70,000-80,000 people were left homeless. The loss of property was estimated at £5 to £7 million.
The social and economic problems created by the disaster were overwhelming.
Evacuation and resettlement were encouraged by monarch Charles II, fearing a rebellion amongst the destitute refugees.
The Great Fire of London destroyed much of the centre of London, but also helped to kill off some of the black rats and fleas that carried the plague bacillus.
Following the smouldering destruction, London was reconstructed on essentially the same street plan used before the fire.
London’s Burning is a six-day festival of arts and ideas staged by the creative company Artichoke to mark the 350th anniversary.
The programme of free art events is taking place at locations including St Paul’s, the Tate Modern and the National Theatre.
Every night from Thursday to Sunday, the south and east sides of the St Paul’s dome will be lit up with a fiery projection called Fires Ancient
The finale on September 4 will feature a 120ft-long wooden replica of the City skyline of 1666 being floated down the Thames and set alight between Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo in a re-enactment.
A live digital broadcast of the event will be hosted by Lauren Laverne from 8.25pm on Sunday, and will feature a series of short films revealing the stories behind the project.
Fire! Fire! is at the Museum of London until April 17 2017 , featuring exhibits of everyday items such as curtain hooks and eyes which melted in the heat.
Minecraft’s Great Fire 1666 allows museum visitors to play their part
Heartbreaking stories of survivors resonate across the centuries, vividly bringing home the terror.
There is also a Minecraft exhibit, Great Fire 1666, which allow players to walk down the streets of London, interact with the people of 1666, combat the flames, and rebuild their own vision of the capital. It’s playable on PC and Mac .
News Source MirrorNews