The Great Fire of London changed the City forever, and now 350 years on from the fire we celebrate the City that rose from the ashes. To commemorate the anniversary, there have been numerous walks, talks, exhibitions and installations; a replica of 17th century London was even built and set on fire on the River Thames!
Everyday, The Museum of London opens its doors and allows visitors to uncover stories from the past to the present day. This year, they also play a part in marking the anniversary of the Great Fire with their Fire! Fire! exhibition and recently, we took a trip to London to check it out for our first edition of our new ‘Discover’ blog series.
You start by stepping into Pudding Lane, experiencing the narrow, dimly lit streets – getting a glimpse into how it would have been before the fire began. Then you enter the Baker’s shop.
From within the shop, we see and hear the fire quickly evolve and witness Thomas Farriner gather up his family and quickly usher them to safety.
As we move with the fire from Pudding Lane, we learn how, why and where the fire spread.
From here, we are introduced to objects recovered from the fire, what people saved for themselves and how they went about it. Would you believe that Samuel Pepys actually buried his Parmesan cheese and wine in his garden! Due to its thick stone walls St Paul’s Cathedral was considered a safe place throughout the fire, and consequently many booksellers and printers kept their books and papers in St Paul’s for safe-keeping; alas, on the 4th of September, St Paul’s also caught fire and everything was lost.
As we continue to learn more and more about the fire, exploring the evidence ourselves we are also confronted with the flames and see just how the fire swept across the City with the fantastic animated graphics that plaster the wall. Now is also the opportunity to get hands-on with some 17th century firefighting techniques!
From here, there is time to reflect (and sit down) as we hear extracts from 17th-century accounts describing the experiences of people made homeless by the Great Fire.
Rebuilding the City took almost 40 years; changes such as widening the streets and extending the pavements were made, and how ‘important’ your street was deemed to be could dictate how tall your house was…there was also a law in place which stated that if your house was built of wood then it would be torn down!
“…so much love, care and pains, so many heads and hands and hearts as are set to work about our City with earnest prayers for the restoration of it…” [Samuel Rolle, 1668]
It is within this section of the exhibition that we can see how other designers proposed the City should be rebuilt and we also have the opportunity ourselves to suggest how we would have liked London to look.
All-in-all, the Fire! Fire! exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to experience the impact of the Great Fire of London, through the eyes of those who witnessed it – it’s a real treat for all the senses, and all the family! The exhibition is open now and will run until April 2017 but we have teamed up with the Museum of London to give you the opportunity to win a family ticket to the Fire! Fire! exhibition and see all of this for yourselves.
Do you know the answer to this question: “In what year did the Great Fire of London start?” – if so, visit the Great Fire of London competition page and you could be in with a chance of winning… Good luck!
The story of the Great Fire is also told on this 2016 £2 coin, featuring a design by Royal Mint designer Aaron West. We recently caught up with Aaron to discuss the inspiration behind the design, an interview you can read here.
Full terms and conditions for the ticket competition can be found here.