This week 350 years ago, the Great Fire of London burned through 400 of the city’s streets. Matthew Green reveals the extraordinary structures lost in the blaze – from old St Paul’s to a riverside castle – and what survived, only to vanish later
“Oh the miserable and calamitous spectacle!” wrote John Evelyn in 1666, “mine eyes … now saw above 10,000 houses all in one flame.” The conflagration he witnessed from 2-5 September destroyed much of the medieval metropolis, swallowing 400 streets, 13,200 houses, 87 churches, and 44 livery halls.
Many of the City of London’s most iconic buildings were consumed: St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Exchange, Newgate Prison, Christ’s Hospital, even Whittington’s Longhouse, one of the biggest public toilets in Europe, in the Vintry. Evelyn was aghast at the destruction of so much of the medieval centre: “London was, but is no more”. Continue reading...