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The Great (controlled) Fire of London

As historians, we have been learning about the Great Fire of London which began on 2nd September 1666.

We have learnt that the fire broke out in Thomas Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane in the very early hours of the morning. An ember/ spark jumped from the fire in the bakery and caused the fire to spread quickly! 

People had to escape from their houses however they could. Thomas Farriner had to escape through an upstairs window to get away from the fire. The fire then spread for 4 days, causing huge damage to the city of London. The houses were made from timber (wood) and straw which meant the fire spread quickly. The houses were also very unstable during this time and they had been built very close together, another reason for the fire spreading as quickly as it did. There was no fire service back then and people would have to use leather buckets, forming a human chain to pass water along to each other to extinguish the fire. The summer has been very hot and there was a strong wind blowing from the West, which also allowed the flames to jump from house to house, burning the houses to the ground as the fire continued to burn. Eventually, King Charles II ordered people to pull down the houses with fire hooks and axes to cause a fire break. He even ordered people to blow up houses with gunpowder to stop the fire travelling even further.

Over the half term children constructed their own houses in the Tudor style to try and recreate what happened during the fire. They already knew what their designs were destined for. On Friday, 8 March 2024 we took our Tudor style houses outside and recreated our own Great Fire of London, so we could observe what happened. The children were full of excitement and cheer and loved the experience. Big thanks to the staff at Forest Schooling UK for helping us to safely recreate the fire. 

Here are some of the children’s comments about what they observed

“That was amazing. I didn’t realise it would burn that quickly!”

“Some of the flames grew and grew as the wind blew stronger.”

“The flames looked like tongues flickering up from the ground.”

“My poor house. I would not have wanted to be in there when the fire happened.”

“The smoke was really smelly and would not have been nice to be near in 1666.”

“That was so exciting to see what really happened! Can we do it again?”

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