Tag Archives: Great Fire of London

How “Of Alley” Got its Name

A thoroughly enjoyable chartered “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey – Priories, Palaces and Parliament” walk today, with a party of eight, including repeat customers Dave and Judy – yay!

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As always, people were piqued by the curious tale of how “Of Alley” got its name.  The story may be said to have begun at least as long ago as 1237 or thereabouts, when a house was built on the banks of the Thames for the Bishops of Norwich.  The  house was later handed over by Henry VIII to his brother-in-law Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk,  during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, and then by Queen Mary to the Archbishop of York  in 1556, at which point it  came to be known as “York House”.  York House was then in turn owned or occupied by Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, from 1558; by his son Francis Bacon, from 1617;  by  George Villiers Senior, the First Duke of Buckingham, from 1621; by Villiers’s widow, from 1628;  by General Sir Thomas, Lord Fairfax, during the Civil War; and eventually by Villiers’s son, George Junior, the Second Duke of Buckingham, after the Restoration  (by which time he had married Fairfax’s daughter Mary).  The house  survived the Great Fire of 1666.  However, it was substantially demolished in the 1670s, whereupon Nicholas Barbon re-developed the site, and in deference to its former owner set out new streets named George, Villiers, Duke and Buckingham –  and an alley named Of!

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(Incidentally, of York House, only the Water Gate, believed to have been designed and built by the master-mason Nicholas Stone in 1626, survives to this day, in  Victoria  Embankment Gardens).

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Please note that this walk, or indeed any of our others, can be booked by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.co.uk) or phone (020-8998-3051).

The Building of England

October 16th 2013 
 
I’ve just got back from an extraordinarily stimulating – and free – Gresham lecture at the Museum of London.  It was by the Gresham Professor of the Built Environment – and Chief Executive of English Heritage – Simon Thurley, and on the subject of “The Building of England” (which is also the subject of his forthcoming book of the same name, due out next month).
Thurley argued, provocatively but persuasively, that much of what has been written of the architecture of England has focussed  narrowly on details of individual style, architects or buildings, and in so doing has lost sight of the bigger picture, of the wider world, and of why rather than how people build.
In his holistic interpretation, architectural innovation has always been   associated with centres of financial wealth, the geographic locations of which have tended to move over the course of history as the nature of the economy has evolved  from agricultural – pastoral, then arable – to industrial (and ultimately technological or service-based).
Uniquely, London has always been a centre of financial wealth and of architectural innovation. And not the least so  in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1666, which  provided planners with the opportunity to create the world’s first stone-built, coal-burning, essentially modern city.

My City of Ruins

September 7th  – On this day in 1666, in the immediate aftermath of the Great Fire, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary:

“Up by five o’clock; and, blessed be God! find all well; and by water to [Paul’s] Wharfe.  Walked thence, and saw all the towne burned, and a miserable sight of Paul’s church, with all the roofs fallen, and the body of the quire fallen into St Fayth’s; Paul’s school also, Ludgate, and Fleet Street. My father’s house, and the church, and a good part of the Temple the like.”

 
And went on to write, equally if not more fretfully:

“I home late to Sir W. Pen’s, who did give me a bed … ; … but still both sleeping and waking had a fear of fire in my heart, that I took little rest.  People do all the world over cry out of the simplicity of my Lord Mayor in … this business of the fire, laying it all upon him.  A proclamation is come out for markets to be kept at Leadenhall and … several other places about the town; and Tower Hill, and all churches to be set open to receive poor people”.

 
The area around St Paul’s described by Pepys  in the first of these two extracts is visited on our Wednesday morning walk “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn – Fanfare and Plainsong”, Wednesday afternoon walk  “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey – Priories, Palaces and Parliament” and Friday afternoon walk “Tower to Temple – The Heart of the City”.
Please note that these walks, or indeed any of our others, can also be booked at any other time, subject to prior agreement (e-mail lostcityoflondon@sky.co.ukor phone 020-8998-3051).
Note. The church of St Faith, also known as St Faith under St Paul’s, was burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666 and not rebuilt afterwards.  The only surviving evidence of its former existence, at least at its former site, is in the form of a parish boundary marker on New Change, and a pump “erected by St Faith’s parish” in 1819 in St Paul’s Alley (which alley, incidentally, was widened so as to be almost as wide as it is long following legislation passed in 1667 that required passage-ways to be at least 9’ wide “for the common benefit of accommodation”).

The Great Fire of London and its Aftermath

September 2nd  – On this day in 1666, the Great Fire of London broke out in the bakery of Thomas Faryner in Pudding Lane.
The associated Monument is visited on our Thursday morning walk “Aldgate, Bishopsgate and beyond – Priories and Playhouses” and on our Friday afternoon walk “Tower to Temple – The Heart  of the City”.
Map showing the area destroyed by the Great Fire (shaded), and the surviving structures (numbered)
The Great Fire of London
(extract taken from my book “The Lost City of London” – click here for further details )
 
On the evening of Saturday 1st September, 1666, the king’s baker Thomas Farriner or Faryner or Farynor, whose premises were on Pudding Lane, went to bed leaving the fire that heated his oven still burning, in contravention of the curfew law passed six hundred  years previously  by William I, “the Conqueror”  (the word curfew deriving from the Norman French “cover-feu”, meaning, literally, “cover fire”).  In the early hours of the following morning, a spark from the fire settled on a pile of firewood stacked nearby for use on the following working day, and set it  alight. Flames soon engulfed  the house,  and although  Farriner  and his family were able to  escape by climbing through an upstairs window and along the outside of the building to a neighbouring one, his unfortunate maid-servant  stayed put, and burned to death, becoming the first of reportedly mercifully few to die in what was still yet to become the Great Fire.  Her name was Rose.
The fire soon spread from Farriner’s bakery to nearby Fish Street Hill, burning down the “Star Inn”, where flammable faggots and straw were stacked up in the yard, and the church of St Margaret Fish Street Hill,  the first to be destroyed; and thence on to Thames Street, where wood, cloth sails, rope, tar, coal and other flammable materials were stacked up on the river-front.  It  went on to take a firm hold of the City, largely built of wooden houses, weatherproofed with pitch, and separated by only a few feet at ground level, and even less at roof level (on account of the construction of successive storeys further and further out into the street, affording more space, a practice known as jettying), allowing flames to  leap from one to another with ease.    The  spread of the fire was further facilitated by the weather, with the strong easterly wind that had been creaking and rattling shop signs on their hinges now fanning it and carrying it towards the heart of the City;  and everything in its path tinder dry from the preceding exceptionally long, hot, dry summer (which also meant that the supply of water with which to fight it was short).  Fortunately,  its  spread across the river to Southwarkwas halted at a gap in the buildings on London Bridge that formed a natural firebreak  – ironically,  the result of another fire some thirty years previously.  Nonetheless, Pepys (*1) wrote that he “did see the houses at the end of the bridge all on fire”, and “rode down to the waterside, … and there saw a lamentable fire. … Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river or bringing them into lighters that lay off; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the waterside to another”.  On seeing this, he travelled to Westminsterto advise the King that the situation was getting out of hand, later recalling “Having stayed, and in an hours time seen the fire rage every way, and nobody to my sight endeavouring to quench it, … to Whitehall and there up to the King’s closet in the Chapel, where I did give them an account that dismayed them all, and the word was carried to the King.  So I was called for, and did tell the King … what I saw; and that unless His Majesty did command houses to be pulled down, nothing could stop the fire.  They seemed much troubled, and the King commanded me to go to my Lord Mayor from him, and command him spare no houses”.  And at the King’s behest, he returned to the scene, and “At last met my Lord Mayor in Canning Streete … with a hankercher about his neck.  To the King’s message, he cried like a fainting woman, ‘Lord, what can I do?  I am spent!  People will not obey me.  I have been pull[ing] down houses.  But fire overtakes us faster than we can do it’”.  Pulling down or even blowing up buildings to create further firebreaks did indeed prove a partially successful strategy in fighting the fire, saving the churches of All Hallows Barking and St Olave Hart Street, but unfortunately it was also one that was implemented too late to make much of a difference to the eventual outcome (possibly for fear of law-suits from property owners).  The fire eventually essentially halted in its own tracks, spent, after the wind dropped, on the fourth day.
Recriminations rapidly followed, with  the Lord Mayor Sir Thomas Bloodworth or Bludworth singled out for criticism over his initial complacency and subsequent indecisiveness (when first informed of the fire, he is reported to have remarked that a woman might have pissed it out, which indeed she might, if she had acted promptly, but he did not, and must soon have come to rue his rash words).  The rudimentary fire brigade was also criticised, for acting in an un-coordinated fashion, and,  in its desperation, digging up roads and cutting pipes to get at the water to fill its  buckets, in so doing cutting off the supply to others.  However, given the chaotic situation they found themselves confronted with, and the tools at their disposal with which to deal with it, including primitive fire engines that looked and likely  handled more like tea trolleys, they would appear to have performed perfectly admirably.   In the  end, everything was essentially ascribed  to an act of God, albeit one that the wit and hand of man would attempt to ensure was never repeated.  (Many, though,  falsely believed the fire to have been deliberately set, by  a fanatical Papist or Dissenter, or by a Dutch or French saboteur; and indeed a Frenchman, Robert Hubert, was executed for having set it, after a confession obtained under duress, and  a “show trial” presided over by members of Farriner’s family – who had their own  reasons to  attach  the blame to  such a convenient scapegoat).
The  stark fact remained that the fire had largely destroyed the City that had witnessed so much history in the making.  As intimated above, loss of life appears to have been comparatively low, although it may have been higher  than reported, given that the fire had evidently been sufficiently hot  as to have  burned bodies to ash within as little as an hour or two (hot enough to melt not only the lead on the rooves of the churches (300degC), but also iron bells (1200degC), glass (1500degC), and even pottery (1700degC)). However, eighty percent of the area within the walls was more or less completely burnt out, and only the extreme north and east had survived substantially  intact (the walls had essentially confined the fire to the City within, although some areas without to the west had also been affected).  Around 13000 private residences and places of business within and immediately without the walls of the City were either essentially or entirely destroyed, alongside 85 parish churches and St Paul’s Cathedral, 45 Livery Company Halls, the Custom House, the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange, the Royal Wardrobe and Castle Baynard.  Damage to property and trade was on an entirely unprecedented scale, as was associated homelessness and loss of livelihood.  Around  100000 persons were made homeless, and had to be temporarily rehoused in camps, like the one on Moorfields, or in those – still substantial – parts of what we might think of as Greater London that were  not affected by the fire.  There would appear to have been a certain amount of profiteering by landlords at this time, and a little later, as rebuilding work began, by builders’ merchants, although the general mood would appear to have been  one of shared hardship and public-spiritedness, somewhat akin to that of the Blitz of the Second World War.
Footnote:
(*1) Aside from Pepys’s  vivid eye-witness account, for which we can perhaps forgive him the infamous “parmazan”  episode, there are a number of  contemporary paintings of the fire at its height, one of which, attributed to Waggoner, survives,  in the GuildhallArt Gallery; and another, by an anonymous artist, in the Museum of London.  A panorama of the aftermath of the fire, by Hollar, survives in the British Museum.  Other  graphic images of the fire and its aftermath also survive, although mainly outside London.  A significant proportion are by Dutch artists, one of whom entitled his work “Sic Punit”, or “Thus He Punishes”  –  remember that England was at war with Holland at the time of the fire.
Aftermath 
(extract taken from my book “The Lost City of London” – click here for further details)
 
Would the City ever be rebuilt, or be the same again?
Well, of course it would, not least because the prosperity of the City was essential not only to that of the country as a whole but also to that of powerful men with vested interests, watching anxiously from the sidelines as “day by day the City’s wealth flowed out of the gate” to other boroughs.
The Lord Mayor initiated the process essentially straight away, within weeks commissioning a detailed survey of the fire-damaged area of the City to assist with the assessment of compensation claims, and to use as a  template for reconstruction plans.  The survey was undertaken by the Bohemian Wencesla(u)s Hollar (1607-77), who had travelled widely before eventually settling in London, and  earned a reputation as an engraver and print-maker of some skill, specialising in landscape scenes.  Other surveys were undertaken, and maps made, by Doornick, Leake, and Ogilby and Morgan.
A number of revolutionary reconstruction plans for the City were submitted, by, among others, Christopher Wren (1632-1723), Robert Hooke (1635-1703) and John Evelyn (1620-1706), any one of which, if implemented,  would have given it a radically new look and feel, much more like  that of the great European cities of the day, and indeed of today, with their uniform architecture, broad boulevards and   open piazzas.  (Evelyn wrote that “In the disposure of the streets, due consideration should be had, what are the competent breadths for commerce and intercourse (!), cheerfulness and state”).  But these  plans were over-ambitious, apart from anything else, and were abandoned on the grounds of practicality in favour of  one requiring much less groundwork, and much more like the old one (although allowing of at least one concession to modernity, in the widening, and freeing  from encumbrance to the flow of traffic, of the streets).  The City that might have been never came to be, and  that that had been would come  to be again:  for the most part neither  particularly beautiful nor harmonious; but, rather,   “lived in” and fractious; and yet, familiar and loved.
The man selected to oversee and implement the chosen reconstruction plan was the aforementioned Christopher Wren, an architect and a  member of an aristocratic family who had finally found favour in the Restoration, after years in the wilderness during the Protectorate and Commonwealth: his assistants, the aforementioned brilliant but curmudgeonly Robert Hooke, memorably described by  Pepys as  “the most,  and promises the least, of any man in the world that I ever saw”; and the young and prodigiously gifted Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736).  Incidentally, Wren was an anatomist and astronomer as well as an architect (one wonders whether he, like Sartre’s autodidact, acquired his learning by reading an encyclopaedia, starting with the letter “A”); a follower of the “New Philosophy” of Francis Bacon (1561-1626); and a founder member of the Royal Society.  He was, in short, an archetypal (English)  Renaissance Man, and, most definitely, the right man, in the right place, at the right time – an unusually happy conjunction in the history of the City.
Wren and his  office set about their reconstruction work as hastily, or rather speedily,  as practicable, so as to provide  the City with the opportunity of re-establishing itself with the minimum of delay and loss.  In all, they rebuilt 51 parish churches within and immediately without the walls, that is, around half of those that had been destroyed in the Great Fire (*2), together with St Paul’s Cathedral, and also rebuilt numerous other public and private buildings, many in the High (English) Renaissance or Early Baroque style – the cost of the entire enterprise being covered by a tax on coal.  The most glorious of Wren’s many glorious achievements was undoubtedly St Paul’s Cathedral.  The cathedral is faced in plain Portland Stone, wonderfully reflective of the City’s light and mood.  It is crowned with a glorious and iconic dome, making it unique among all the cathedrals of England.  Wren’s simple epitaph inside the cathedral reads “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice”, meaning “Reader, should you seek his memorial, look about you”.   On the pediment above the south door is a stone bearing the image of a Phoenix rising from the ashes, and the inscription of the single word “Resurgam”, meaning “I shall rise again” (the inscription repeating  that on another stone found by one of Wren’s workmen among the debris of the  old, burnt-out cathedral – a positive portent if ever there was one).
And so, out of the ashes arose  a new London.  And England was re-born.
 Footnote:
(*2) Of  these 51 churches, 30 are still standing, together with St Paul’s Cathedral, and 21 are not.  Of  the 21 that are no longer  standing, 17,   far more than one might have hoped, were demolished by our own over-zealous town planners and engineers in the pell-mell expansion of London following the Industrial Revolution – in some cases, at least marginally justifiably,  to  allow for development, but in many others simply because they were deemed, under the incomprehensibly philistine Union of Benifices Act of 1860, to be surplus to requirements!  Only 4, far fewer than one might have feared, were completely destroyed by German bombing during the Blitz of the Second World War.  However,  a number of others were also damaged to varying extents at this time, some of which were subsequently restored, and  some left as empty shells.   Two, St Mary Aldermanbury and St Stephen Coleman Street, were destroyed,  and 8,   Christ Church, St Alban, St Andrew by the Wardrobe, St Anne and St Agnes, St Augustine, St Bride, St Lawrence Jewry and St Vedast alias Foster, damaged, on a single, fateful night, Sunday 29th December, 1940, when thousands of incendiaries were dropped on an essentially unguarded City.
At  least many of the  original plans of these recently lost churches still survive, as do some later paintings and photographs.

The Lost Wren Churches of London

I am pleased to announce the launch of a new themed walk on “The Lost Wren Churches of London”.
The walk will be a circular one, beginning and ending at St Paul’s tube station, and taking in all 21 of the “lost” Wren churches on the way, as well as passing a number of the surviving ones (see below).
It will be another of our specials, meaning that it can be taken at any time.
To book, please either e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com) or phone (020-8998-3051).
One of the Not-Quite-Lost Wren Churches, St Dunstan-in-the-East
Background (an extract from my book, The Lost City of London published in 2012 – see link for further details)
 
In the aftermath of the Great Fire of London of 1666, the question was asked, would the City ever be rebuilt, or be the same again?
Well, of course it would, not least because the prosperity of the City was essential not only to that of the country as a whole but also to that of powerful men with vested interests, watching anxiously from the sidelines as “day by day the City’s wealth flowed out of the gate” to other boroughs.
The Lord Mayor initiated the process essentially straight away, within weeks commissioning a detailed survey of the fire-damaged area of the City to assist with the assessment of compensation claims, and to use as a  template for reconstruction plans.  The survey was undertaken by the Bohemian Wencesla(u)s Hollar, who had travelled widely before eventually settling in London, and  earned a reputation as an engraver and print-maker of some skill, specialising in landscape scenes.  Other surveys were undertaken, and maps made, by Doornick, Leake, and Ogilby and Morgan.
A number of revolutionary reconstruction plans for the City were submitted, by, among others, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and John Evelyn, any one of which, if implemented, would have given it a radically new look and feel, much more like that of the great European cities of the day, and indeed of today, with their uniform architecture, broad boulevards and   open piazzas.  (Evelyn wrote that “In the disposure of the streets, due consideration should be had, what are the competent breadths for commerce and intercourse (!), cheerfulness and state”).  But these  plans were over-ambitious, apart from anything else, and were abandoned on the grounds of practicality in favour of  one requiring much less groundwork, and much more like the old one (although allowing of at least one concession to modernity, in the widening, and freeing  from encumbrance to the flow of traffic, of the streets).  The City that might have been never came to be, and  that that had been would come  to be again:  for the most part neither  particularly beautiful nor harmonious; but, rather, “lived in” and fractious; and yet, familiar and loved.
The man selected to oversee and implement the chosen reconstruction plan was the aforementioned Christopher Wren, an architect and a  member of an aristocratic family who had finally found favour in the Restoration, after years in the wilderness during the Protectorate and Commonwealth: his assistants, the aforementioned brilliant but curmudgeonly Robert Hooke, memorably described by  Pepys as  “the most,  and promises the least, of any man in the world that I ever saw”; and the young and prodigiously gifted Nicholas Hawksmoor.  Incidentally, Wren was an anatomist and astronomer as well as an architect (one wonders whether he, like Sartre’s autodidact, acquired his learning by reading an encyclopaedia, starting with the letter “A”); a follower of the “New Philosophy” of Francis Bacon; and a founder member of the Royal Society.  He was, in short, an archetypal (English)  Renaissance Man, and, most definitely, the right man, in the right place, at the right time – an unusually happy conjunction in the history of the City.
Wren and his  office set about their reconstruction work as hastily, or rather speedily,  as practicable, so as to provide  the City with the opportunity of re-establishing itself with the minimum of delay and loss.  In all, they rebuilt 51 parish churches within and immediately without the walls, that is, around half of those that had been destroyed in the Great Fire (*), together with St Paul’s Cathedral, and also rebuilt numerous other public and private buildings, many in the High (English) Renaissance or Early Baroque style – the cost of the entire enterprise being covered by a tax on coal.  The most glorious of Wren’s many glorious achievements was undoubtedly St Paul’s Cathedral.  The cathedral is faced in plain Portland Stone, wonderfully reflective of the City’s light and mood.  It is crowned with a glorious and iconic dome, making it unique among all the cathedrals of England.  Wren’s simple epitaph inside the cathedral reads “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice”, meaning “Reader, should you seek his memorial, look about you”.   On the pediment above the south door is a stone bearing the image of a Phoenix rising from the ashes, and the inscription of the single word “Resurgam”, meaning “I shall rise again” (the inscription repeating  that on another stone found by one of Wren’s workmen among the debris of the  old, burnt-out cathedral – a positive portent if ever there was one).
And so, out of the ashes arose  a new London.  And England was re-born.
(*) Of  these 51 churches, 30 are still standing, together with St Paul’s Cathedral, and 21 are not.  Of  the 21 that are no longer standing, 17,  far more than one might have hoped, were demolished by our own over-zealous town planners and engineers in the pell-mell expansion of London following the Industrial Revolution – in some cases, at least marginally justifiably,  to  allow for development, but in many others simply because they were deemed, under the incomprehensibly philistine Union of Benifices Act of 1860, to be surplus to requirements!  Only 4, far fewer than one might have feared, were completely destroyed by German bombing during the Blitz of the Second World War.  However,  a number of others were also damaged to varying extents at this time, some of which were subsequently restored, and  some left as empty shells.   Two were destroyed,  and 8 damaged, on a single, fateful night, Sunday 29th December, 1940, when thousands of incendiaries were dropped on an essentially unguarded City.
At  least many of the  original plans of these recently lost churches still survive, as do some later paintings and photographs.

Royal Exchange

June 7th  According to de Loriol, on this day in 1566, the first stone of the original “Royal Exchange” was laid.  The building was the brainchild of the financier and philanthropist Sir Thomas Gresham, and was modelled on the bourse he had seen in Antwerp.
Much to the disgust of native Londoners, the architect was a foreigner.  On a related note, a  census taken in the City on this day in 1567 revealed the presence of

“40 Scots, 428 Frenchmen, 45 Spaniards, 140 Italians, 2030 Dutch, 44 Burgundians, 2 Danes and 1 Liegois”.

The original “Royal Exchange” was burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666.  An eye-witness, one Thomas Vincent, wrote:

“The Royal Exchange itself, the glory of the merchants, is now invaded with much violence.  And when once the fire was entered, how quickly did it run round the galleries, filling them with flames; then descendeth the stairs, compasseth the walks, giving forth flaming volleys, and filleth the courts with sheets of fire.  By and by, down fall all the kings upon their faces, and the greatest part of the stone building after them, with such a noise as was dreadful and astonishing”.

A replacement was built in 1669, and burnt down in 1838; a second replacement, in turn built in 1844.
The Royal Exchange today – built in 1844
The grasshopper on the top of the building is Gresham’s insignia.
The “Royal Exchange” is visited  on our Friday afternoon walk “Tower to Temple – The Heart of the City”.
Our Friday afternoon walk starts at Tower Hill tube station at 2pm, and finishes at Temple tube station. It lasts approximately 2 hours.

This walk can also be booked privately for other days and times (please note that this particular walk is best experienced on week-days, because the Inns of Court are inaccessible at the week-end)

Reservation is required for both scheduled and private walks. To book a place, please email lostcityoflondon@sky.com  or ring 020 8998 3051

Further information about this and our other walks is available on other parts of our website www.lostcityoflondon.co.uk
And for updates, news and promotions, why not visit (and ‘Like’) the Lost City of London Facebook page

A Voice from the Past

26th May
On this day in 1703 Samuel Pepys died.
The following are selected extracts from the entries in his famous diary for the days of the Great Fire of London in 1666:
“September 2d .  … Jane called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire … in the City.  So I rose, and slipped on my night-gown, and went to her window; and thought it to be … far enough off,   and so went to bed again … .  … By and by Jane comes and tells me that … the fire …  is now burning all down Fish Street, by London Bridge.  So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower; and there got up upon one of the high places … ; and … did see … an infinite great fire … , … a lamentable fire.  … Every body endeavouring to remove their goods, and …  bringing them into lighters that lay off; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs, by the waterside, to another.   … Having staid, and in an hour’s time seen the fire rage every way … ; I to White Hall, … and did tell the King … what I saw; and that, unless his Majesty did command houses to be pulled down, nothing could stop the fire”.
September 3d. (M)y Lady Batten sent me a cart to carry away all my money, and plate, and best things, .., which I did, riding … in my night-gown, in the cart … .
September 4th.  … (T)o the Tower Street, and there met the fire burning … .  And … Sir W. Pen and I did dig [a pit], and put our wine in it, and I my parmazan cheese … .
September 5th.  … About two in the morning my wife … tells me of new cryes of fire, it being come to Barking Church … .    I up; and finding it so, resolved …  to take her away, and did, and … my gold … ; but, Lord! what a sad sight it was by moone-light, to see the whole City almost on fire … .  Home, and whereas I expected to have seen our house on fire, … it was not.  … (G)oing to the fire, I find, by the blowing up of houses … by Sir W. Pen, there is a good stop given to it … ; it having only burned the dyall of Barking Church, and part of the porch, and … was there quenched.  I up to the top of Barking steeple, and there saw the saddest sight of desolation I ever saw… ”.
Various localities of interest with regard to Pepys, including the aforementioned church of All Hallows Barking, are visited on our Friday morning “London Wall – A Story of Survival” and Friday afternoon “Tower to Temple – Heart of the City” walks.
All Hallows, Barking
Pepys Memorial, inside St Olave’s Church Hart Street
Pepys Statue, Seething Lane (not on view, at the time of writing (May 2013)
due to redevelopment of the site)
Pre-booking is required for all our walks. To reserve a place, please email lostcityoflondon@sky.com or ring 020 8998 3051
Further information is available from other parts of our website www.lostcityoflondon.co.uk