Travel back in time to London 1666. For many years there had been warnings that London could be destroyed by fire. The houses at the time were mainly made of wood, with thatch roofs. Upstairs rooms were often made to overhang the streets below, streets which were very narrow and bendy.
Houses were built very close together with upper levels extending out above the streets. If you opened a window on the top floor and strecthed out your arm you could shake hands with the person living in the opposite house.
Open fires were the only way of cooking and heating homes. With no electricty or gas people had to light oil lamps or candles or oil to see at night. Iron and flint was used to light fires, lamps and candles.
Samuel Pepys showed us how to make Beeswax Candles.
Samuel Pepys was a naval advisor, his job was to make sure the magnificient ships of the time had all the provisions/stores they would need during their voyage at sea. In 1666 the war with the Dutch meant that he was very busy storing the ships with food, water, ammunition, rope, masts, sails and more. A huge variety of equipment would be needed including flags for communicating with other ships.
We had a go at sending a flag message.
Summer of 1666 was long, hot, and dry. At 2.00 am on Sunday 2nd September the unthinkable happened. The King's bakers in Pudding Lane caught fire. Fire spread through London, destroying over 13,200 houses until finally on Wednesday 5th September it went out. A previous fire on London Bridge destroyed buildings in the middle of the bridge making a firebreak. The wind changed direction on the other side of the fire travelling towards Westminster, and because everything had already been burnt down the 'Great Fire of London' finally went out!
Oh no my wig! It has been damaged in the fire ..... time for me to bury my valuables, money, wine and parmesan cheese!
Help people with ropes, catch them from windows.
What can be done to help people get out of burning buildings and put the fire out?
... make a chain of people to pass leather buckets of water to tip onto the flames!
... pull down the buildings, this will not work if they are already on fire!
Let's see what happened when we tried to pass the leather bucket down the line!
After the Great Fire of London Samuel Pepys had to find out which parts of London were caught in the fire.
We looked at materials collected from different areas of London to see if we could find any evidence of fire damage. We examined materials looking for evidence. During our investigations we discovered 'What the materials were made of? What were they used for? Was there any fire damage?'
Many parts of London were damaged in the 'Great Fire of London'. Thankfully people worked together to make a better, safer London for everyone to live in. Especially Christopher Wren who made great plans for London, straight roads, squares to enjoy and an amazing rebuild of St Pauls Cathedral. Today if you visit St Pauls Cathedral you can see that much of the original architecture remains unchanged!
A plan of St Pauls Cathedral before 'The Great Fire of London'
A plan of St Pauls Cathedral after 'The Great Fire of London'
Londoners had spent two years in fear of the plague which had killed over 68,000 people. Samuel Pepys told us how people believed the plague was spread by bad smells, but it was rats and fleas that were to blame. They couldn't understand why the plague affected people in the summer but not in the winter. They had no understanding of germs, hygiene and how infections were spread.
The nursery rhyme 'Ring a Ring of Roses' a rhyme made all those years ago was about the plague!
This is a doctor wearing a mask. The beak is full of herbs and flowers which at the time was felt to give protection from the plague.
The Lord Mayor issued a leaflet of orders for people to follow.
What an amazing day we have had with Samuel Pepys!
Please click on the play button below to hear some of the children's thoughts on 'Samuel Pepys' and the 'Great Fire of London'