The Great Fire of London

People’s lives

How did Londoners experience the fire and how did their lives change as a result?

Read First Chapter
Chapter 01

What were people’s lives like before the Great Fire?

400,000 inhabitants were crowded into the city’s narrow streets.

Before the fire: a bustling metropolis

Around 400,000 people lived in London in 1666.

Before the fire: fire for living

Fire was used a lot in everyday life for heating, lighting and cooking, and in industry.

Chapter 02

What was it like to experience the Great Fire?

People scrabbled to escape with their belongings and thousands found themselves homeless. Less scrupulous people took the opportunity to profit from the situation.

2 September 1666, 3am

Samuel Pepys's maid woke him to tell him about the fire. How do you think others found out about the fire?

2 September 1666, 9-10pm

The fire became a cover for looters. Others were suspected of spreading the fire on purpose.

3 September 1666, around 4am

Pepys packed his ‘best things’ onto a cart to take them to safety. What do you think other people saved?

3 September 1666, evening

Jo Morgan was watching the fire from an attic a few streets away when a fireball whizzed past his head. How would it feel to see the fire?

3 September 1666, evening

Lady Ann Hobart paid £20 to hire carts to take her belongings to safety. Carters saw an opportunity to charge large sums.

3 September 1666

Homeless Londoners camped in the fields outside the City. What do you think happened to them?

5 September 1666

A royal proclamation stated that churches should store people’s belongings. Temporary markets were set up so people could buy food.

By the end of the fire

About 100,000 people lost their homes during the fire, but we don’t know for sure how many people died.

Chapter 03

What was life like after the fire?

With around 100,000 people without a home, London quickly set about rebuilding but this was not as easy as you might think…

After the fire: in dispute

There were many disputes between tenants and landlords about who should pay to rebuild houses. The Fire Court helped to resolve these.

After the fire: the danger continues

The areas devastated by the fire became dangerous places. Unstable walls fell on passers-by and thieves lurked in the ruins.

2 March 1667

Elizabeth Peacock sought help from a relief fund set up in October 1666. What was this relief fund and how did it help?

By 1711

About 550,000 people lived in London. It had become Europe’s largest city.


You have reached the end of the story: People’s lives

Want to learn more? Choose another story