July 10th – On this day in 1212, there was a great fire in Southwark that reportedly killed thousands of people, many of them trapped on London Bridge. According to a near-contemporary account:
“An exceeding great multitude of people passing the Bridge, either to extinguish or quench it, or else to gaze at and behold it, suddenly the north part, by blowing of the south wind, was also set on fire, and the people which were even now passing the Bridge, perceiving the same, would have returned, but were stopped by the fire.”
The fire badly damaged the recently-built bridge, leaving it only partially usable for years afterwards, and necessitating a partial rebuild. It also damaged Southwark Cathedral, necessitating a partial rebuild. Some of the masonry used in the rebuilding of the cathedral was salvaged from the fire debris and shows signs of fire damage.