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The Great Fire of London


Leake's Survey of the City After the Great Fire of 1666 Engraved By W. Hollar, 1667. From the British Library. Shelfmark: Maps.Crace.Port.1.50

Leake’s Survey of the City After the Great Fire of 1666 Engraved By W. Hollar, 1667. From the British Library. Shelfmark: Maps.Crace.Port.1.50

Fires were common in 17th century London but none had ever caused as much destruction as the Great Fire of London which began 350 years ago to this day on September 2, 1666.  The fire broke out in a baker’s shop on a Sunday morning.  London was a very crowded city with houses made of wood.  By Monday morning some 300 houses had burned down.  The summer of 1666 was very hot and dry which only exacerbated the spread of the fire.  When it was extinguished four days after it began, almost 400 acres of London were destroyed including 13,000 houses and nearly 100 churches.

Samuel Pepys, the naval administrator and great diarist, provides us with a detailed account of the Great Fire.  Samuel Pepys enjoyed wine.  In 1663, he famously drank “a sort of French wine, called Ho Bryan” or Chateau Haut-Brion.  He kept a wine cellar of which he was concerned about during the fire.  Over the next several posts I will provide his wine related accounts during the Great Fire sourced from The Diary of Samuel Pepys.

Sunday 2 September 1666

” Jane called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City….The houses, too, so very thick thereabouts, and full of matter for burning, as pitch and tarr, in Thames-street; and warehouses of oyle, and wines, and brandy, and other things.”

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