The Great Fire of London

Streets and buildings

Most of the medieval City of London was swept away by the Great Fire. The rebuilding process took over 40 years.

Read First Chapter
Chapter 01

What were London’s streets and houses like before the fire?

The City of London was full of narrow streets and wooden houses.

Before the fire: a wooden tinderbox

While brick and stone houses did exist, many houses were made of wood and leaned over into the narrow streets.

Before the fire: work and home

Most people lived in the same buildings as their businesses so homes often included shops, workshops, industrial premises and stores.

Before the fire: a religious capital

Did you know? There were 109 churches in the City of London before the fire.

Chapter 02

Buildings affected in the fire

13,200 houses, four-fifths of the City of London and 436 acres were destroyed. Which important buildings were affected?

2 September 1666, 2-3am

The first church, St Margaret Fish Street Hill, caught fire overnight. 87 churches were to be destroyed by the fire.

2 September 1666, 8am

Fishmongers’ Hall, next to London Bridge, became the first livery company hall to burn.

3 September 1666, after 3pm

The Royal Exchange burned.

4 September 1666, daybreak

Cheapside, one of the City of London’s most important streets, began to burn.

4 September 1666, morning

Guildhall, the centre of government in the City, caught fire.

4 September 1666, afternoon and evening

Newgate prison was badly damaged. Ludgate debtors’ prison was surrounded by flames.

4 September 1666, 8pm

A fire broke out on the roof of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Chapter 03

Recovery and rebuilding

Once the fire was over, rebuilding seemed like the perfect opportunity to completely change street layouts. In reality a less dramatic approach was taken.

13 September 1666

King Charles II said the City should be redesigned to prevent another fire - but he wanted regulations in place first.

September 1666

Many rebuilding plans were proposed but none were ever used.

8 February 1667

The First Rebuilding Act set out guidelines for how to rebuild houses.

8 May 1667

The City authorities laid down several rules for rebuilding. New houses had to be faced with brick or stone.


The new Royal Exchange building opened.


The Second Rebuilding Act set out guidelines for rebuilding churches and public buildings.


The Guildhall was rapidly restored, although it was remodelled in 1862.


Much of the rebuilding work had now been completed.


The Monument was opened.


A memorial plaque was set up on the house rebuilt on the site where the fire started.


The new St Paul's Cathedral was formally declared complete.


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