The Great Fire of London

The city of old London had narrow, crooked streets and wooden houses. It was a dirty city, too. In 1665 seventy-five thousand Londoners died from the plague.

On 2 September 1666, a bakery in Pudding Lane near London Bridge caught fire. It was Thomas Farriner’s* shop; he was the baker for King Charles II and baked bread for the Royal Navy. The fire started because either the baker or one of his servants forgot to douse the fire in the oven. (* also spelt Farynor)

 

A man named Samuel Pepys lived on the other side of the River Thames and he saw the Londoners escape. He was a story writer and he wrote a diary about the fire. He was also afraid of the fire, so he buried some quality cheese and wine in his garden.

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The wind coming from the river blew the flames from house to house. The fire spread very quickly. People tried to put out the fire with buckets of water from the hand pumps. The river was too far so it was very difficult to stop the quickly spreading fire. It burnt for four days and destroyed 80% of the city.

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On the fourth day the wind stopped. The Duke of York, the king’s son ordered his men to destruct some houses which also helped to stop the fire.

On the fourth day the wind stopped. The Duke of York, the king’s son ordered his men to destruct some houses which also helped to stop the fire.

Only six people died in the fire, but it damaged lots of London’s houses and buildings – 13,200 houses and 87 churches. Citizens of London later rebuilt them, they used brick and stone. The new streets were straight and wide. Architect Christopher Wren rebuilt 49 churches including St Paul’s Cathedral. He also built The Monument: a 202-feet-high memorial to the Great Fire of London. The Monument is as tall as the distance between its base and the site of the baker’s shop where the fire began.

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These bricks on the left can be seen in the Museum of London, which tells the story of the Great Fire in an interactive way. The bricks were found in a shop in Pudding Lane, not far from the former bakery. On the surface of the bricks pitch was found, which is like tar, a very flammable material. Those barrels of pitch which were kept in thge cellars of shops in Pudding Lane, quickly spread the fire to the warehouses along the River Thames. All the warehouses were filled with flammable materials like hemp, coal, timber, wine and oil. The fire was uncontrollable from then on and the high winds carried the flames into the City of London.

Try this game – stop the fire yourself.

Here are the irregular verbs from the story. Look at the past forms.

PRESENT FORM

PAST FORM

are

were

begin

began

blow

blew

build

built

burn

burnt

catch

caught

forget

forgot

have

had

is

was

rebuild

rebuilt

see

saw

spread

spread

write

wrote