A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  

Share | 
 

 London fires

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1085
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: London fires   Sat 18 Jul 2015, 04:06

The other day for some reason I wondered why, if a fire in one house in 1666 in London could result in such a large conflagration, this hadn't happened more often before that.  But I read in my Juliet Barker book a sentence that said, "Ever since the great fire of 1212, which began in Southwark and destroyed the church of St Mary Overy before spreading across London Bridge into the city, building regulations had been imposed which decreed that all party walls were to be three feet wide, sixteen feet high and made of stone. Though difficulties in obtaining stone meant this was not always followed, most houses were built over stone cellarsand with stone chimneys, only the superstructure being of wood, and tiles of clay, stone or lead, rather than thatch, were used to cover the roof.  Windows, even in quite ordinary houses, were shuttered for warmth and security but usually glazed as well."


I thought building restrictions and glazing were quite advanced for the times, and indeed in the next sentence she said that they showed urban life in the 13th century was much more sophisticated than popular legend would have us believe. 

But all this doesn't quite answer my original question of why fires hadn't caused a lot more damage than I at least have heard of.  The 1666 fire is so much part of folklore and general knowledge that it would seem to be quite a phenomenon and not just one of a kind.  Or why this one took hold so strongly when others didn't.  (All this reminds that I have to phone the fire brigade and ask about the two fire call-outs yesterday, one of which I know was to a bad house fire of one of the retired teachers in the town.  Was the second one another call to that fire or something different?)
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2748
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: London fires   Sat 18 Jul 2015, 06:11

There was a major fire in 1135 which destroyed most of the city between St Paul's and St Clement Danes in Westminster. Another fire in 1633 destroyed about a third of the buildings on London Bridge and more properties in adjoining Thames Street on the north bank. Some of these buildings were not repaired or replaced and this accidental "firebreak" prevented the bridge itself from being damaged by the Great Fire in 1666.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5145
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: London fires   Sun 19 Jul 2015, 12:05

Royal Palaces in London have had a fair few fires.


Alas, the old Palace of Whitehall was burned to the ground in the 1690s - only the Banqueting House (which was built in 1619) survived. All the Tudor buildings - and the original of Holbein's famous portrait of Henry VIII - went up in smoke.

The hotchpotch of buildings that became known as the Palace of Westminster burned down on October 16th 1834 - the greatest fire in London since 1666. Thank God they saved Westminster Hall's hammerbeam roof. Lord Melbourne gave instructions for the structure to be doused in water: his quick thinking made all the difference. But everything else was lost.



However, the fire that could have proved absolutely disastrous for many novelists and TV producers happened at Sheen Palace on December 21st 1497: the entire Tudor family was gathered there for the Christmas festivities. Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, their children and Granny Beaufort nearly perished in the flames that night! All, however, were hustled away from the conflagration in time.

The blaze destroyed "a great substance of richness, as well as jewels and other things", along with most of the wooden buildings, and, it was reported,

...about nine of the clock began suddenly...within the king's lodging and so continued till midnight. By violence whereof...(a) great part of the old building was burnt and much more harm done upon costrings* and handing beds of cloth of gold and silk and much other rich apparel with plate and manifold jewels belonging to such a noble court.

How well loving thereof be to God (that) no living creature was there perished.


*curtains

The little Duke of York, young Henry, probably enjoyed all the panic and excitement, but his father may well have feared this was the prologue to yet another rebellion. Oddly enough, Perkin Warbeck was at Sheen with the royal family - Henry VII was treating the young man quite decently at that time. Perkin himself, however, does not seem to have been implicated in any way.

PS Henry VII rebuilt Sheen as Richmond Palace.
Back to top Go down
Vizzer
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 784
Join date : 2012-05-12

PostSubject: Re: London fires   Sun 19 Jul 2015, 18:32

@Caro wrote:
The 1666 fire is so much part of folklore and general knowledge that it would seem to be quite a phenomenon and not just one of a kind.

It's a fascinating question Caro. One wonders just how much Carolean propaganda at the time (i.e. King Charles II and his brother James taking charge from a supposedly ineffectual Mayor and Corporation, with Charles himself even physically joining in with fire-fighting) and also the legacy of Sir Christopher Wren's subsequent buildings has had in this. As Meles has pointed out there were other major fires before 1666. London was also burned down by vikings on at least 2 occasions between the 9th and 11th centuries (nothing clement about those Danes) and let's not forget the Germans whose bombing raid on 29th December 1940 caused what also became known as 'The Fire of London'.

Other fires in folklore and general knowledge would be those of Rome under Nero and Moscow under Napoleon. In other words the 'First Rome' and the 'Third Rome'. The 'Second Rome' Constantinople, however, suffered more than either with repeated great fires and yet those remain little known in the West. The same goes for the many fires which destroyed cities in China and Japan over the centuries.

The wooden port cities of northern Europe such as Amsterdam, Oslo, Lubeck and Rostock etc were also prone to periodic fires and the major cities of North America, New York, Chicago, New Orleans and San Francisco have also all had 'great fires' which to a greater or lesser extent have gone into the public consciousness. Intriguingly one of the West's largest cities, Paris, has never had a great fire. Maybe French bakers are just more careful.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: London fires   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 08:16

No apologies for posting this link twice (see "Memory of Stone" thread).

Interesting that 10pm on a Friday has been historically London's most vulnerable time for catching fire. The important thing is that he gets across the rather grim truth of it - instead of concentrating on one spectacularly "great" conflagration it is probably more accurate to think of the city as perpetually being on fire in some area or another - a vital part of its continual regenerative process, now two thousand years old and with no sign of stopping soon.

Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2494
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: London fires   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 09:49

Interesting that 10pm on a Friday has been historically London's most vulnerable time for catching fire.

But probably less so today with the arrival of the late night kebab shop.......
In Scotland it was traditionally Saturday night when the chip pan went up.
Back to top Go down
FrederickLouis
Aediles
avatar

Posts : 71
Join date : 2016-12-13

PostSubject: Re: London fires   Wed 14 Dec 2016, 23:39

In the Great Fire of 1666 King Charles II and his brother, Prince James, Duke of York, took an active part in trying to contain the fire. On September 4, 1666 King Charles could be seen working side by side with the Londoners. His clothes were sodden and his face blackened with smoke. He sent food to the poverty stricken and money to boost fire control efforts.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: London fires   Thu 15 Dec 2016, 11:12

James certainly did - he was, amongst other things, chief fire officer in the Whitehall brigade and took his duties seriously. Charles was reported afterwards to have attended the blaze - though he was actually in Newmarket at the time.

What "money to boost fire control efforts" do you mean, and how was it spent? I do know that after the fire was over property owners had a hell of a job trying to get insurers to pay up, and as far as I know received little or no help from either royalty or parliament. If it wasn't for the Huguenots who extended credit through their London-based banks and via the Weavers' Company (initially to their own brethren and then generally) quite a few thousand people would have lost even the little they had left after the fire.

Charles did next to nothing afterwards to help Londoners rebuild, and in fact he was wise to keep a low profile. His Catholic sympathies were well known and - as could be read on the Monument's plaque until relatively recently - everyone "knew" it was the Catholics who had started it. He did however enact one piece of legislation immediately after the blaze - he banished all people who had been rendered homeless from the precincts of London completely (he feared rebellion) and even subsidised their relocation to other towns (principally Norwich, Ipswich and Bristol), even if they still technically owned their London premises. They could return only if they could prove they had sufficient funds to partially rebuild. This stricture meant that rebuilding could never be done in any greatly organised way - which is mainly why all the "grand schemes" to model a new London with plazas, wide boulevards and long avenues never materialised and they ended up with the street pattern from before.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
 

London fires

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of things ... :: Places-