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The Great Fire

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The Great Fire and St. Paul's

Shakespeare for Kids

Samuel Rolle. Shilhavtiyah. London, 1667

Early in the morning of September 2, 1666, a terrible fire broke out in London.  Becase the city's streets were narrow and houses were built close together, the fire spread easily. Within hours, the fire had moved through several neighborhoods.


By the time it was extinguished several days later, nearly 100,000 people were homeless.  The fire had destroyed houses, shops, and churches, as well as major city landmarks. London Bridge was partially burnt down, and so was St. Paul's cathedral, the city's largest church.


After the fire, people were angry and wanted to find someone to blame. The British government launched an investigation, and eventually a French winemaker named Robert Hubert confessed to starting the fire. Although most of the judges did not think Hubert was guilty, he was convicted and sentenced to death. For many years, the true cause of the fire—a bakery in Pudding Lane—was overlooked.


In the decades following the Great Fire, Londoners focused on new houses, churches, and business to replace the old ones. Within 25 years, most of what had been lost in the fire had been rebuilt. One of the biggest projects was rebuilding St. Paul's Cathedral. The famous architect Sir Christopher Wren was chosen for the job. You can still see St. Paul's Cathedral today, designed as Christopher Wren imagined it over 300 years ago.  


Gipkyn. Old St Paul's. Oil on panel, 1616

St. Paul's Cathedral

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