The Great Fire burned for three days in September, 1666, destroying approximately four-fifths of the City of London (13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and 70,000 of the 80,000 City inhabitants’ homes, according to Adrian Tinniswood’s 2003 book about the fire). The diarist Samuel Pepys recorded his experience of the fire, in which he is charged by Charles II to pull down houses to prevent the fire from spreading. He meets the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth, who tells him, “Lord what can I do? I am spent. People will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses. But the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it.” Although devastating, the fire allowed London to modernize during rebuilding.
The map above (an 1840 reproduction of a 17C original) illustrates the extent of the damage while the painting (by an unknown artist) captures the experience of the fire for London residents.