Topic Guide: The Great Fire of London

A paining showing the Great Fire of London

Great Fire of London, Dutch School style, after Jan Griffier the Elder (c.1652-1718) 1666

© Museum of London

    • The Great Fire of London in 1666 was a hugely important event in the history of London. This topic guide covers: what happened, how the fire was fought  and Samuel Pepys' account of the Fire and finishes up with some videos to watch and a game to play.

      Where to start

      The Museum of London has lots of resources, like this London's Burning website and this Great Fire of London game as well as loads of objects and artefacts relating to the Fire, so they’re a great place to start your research.

      What happened in the Great Fire? Head over to the Museum of London's website for basic facts and figures.

      How did they fight the Fire? The London Fire Brigade Museum’s website also explains what happened during and after the Great Fire, including how people initially managed to put it out. There’s really nowhere better to discover the history of firefighting. They even have a bucket from the time.

      The Museum of London has a fireman’s helmet from the late 1600s which you can see on their website. The museum also has a fire extinguisher from the time, called a ‘Fire Squirt’. The experts at the museum say that is it “not a very efficient way to fight fire.”

      How do we know so much about the Great Fire? We know lots about the Great Fire of London because a man named Samuel Pepys (pronounced “peeps”) kept a diary from 1660 until 1669 and he is our primary source for major events of the time such as the Great Plague of London (1665-1666) as well as the Great Fire in 1666. The MyLearning site has a simple game that walks you through Pepys’ account of the Fire.

      You can see a famous portrait of Pepys on the National Portrait Gallery's website.

      This is a picture of the fire from 1667, a year after the event. It was drawn by a man named Samuel Rolle. How accurate do you think this picture might be?
      A picture showing a drawing of London from the 1660s. The city is on fire with smoke rolling up into the sky.© Museum of London
      Watch and learn: The Museum of London has produced a series of videos about the Great Fire of London, which you can see on the museum’s YouTube channel.  The films were made for a walking tour, designed to tell you about the Fire as you walk through the streets of London but they are still well worth a watch wherever you are.

      Here’s the first one to get you started and the rest in the series are listed below.

      The Great Fire audio tour stop 2
      The Great Fire audio tour stop 3
      The Great Fire audio tour stop 4
      The Great Fire audio tour stop 5
      The Great Fire audio tour stop 6
      The Great Fire audio tour stop 7
      The Great Fire audio tour stop 8

      Play: Finally, the Museum of London, National Archives, National Portrait Gallery, London Metropolitan Archives and London Fire Brigade Museum have got together to make this simple game about the Great Fire. Have a go and see how much you find out.

      Image showing a screenshot of a game. A row of cartoon Tudor houses is on fire and a bucket is splashing water over the fire.© Culture24
Share This