In 1666 the City of London was a crowded space with wooden houses, narrow streets and a limited supply of water. Fires were commonplace and there had been a number of serious fires in the 1600s which had burnt parts of the City.
The Great Fire started in Thomas Farriner's (or Farynor's) bakery in Pudding Lane on Sunday 2 September. The fire quickly spread towards the river and soon ignited warehouses by the Thames, many of which were full of flammable goods, e.g. timber and coal. The fire continued to spread westwards and by 4 September Cheapside and the medieval St Paul's Cathedral were on fire. The last outbreak of fire was reported on 6 September.
During these few days the medieval City was almost entirely destroyed. 13,000 houses, 87 of the 109 parish churches, 43 livery halls, the Royal Exchange and St Paul's Cathedral.
The rebuilding of the City lasted many years. A number of proposals were made, including a plan by Richard Newcourt to create a geometrically planned grid-pattern city. Theoretical proposals were soon overtaken by practicalities and the need to get the city working once more. The rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral under the leadership of Sir Christopher Wren continued until 1710.
The gallery includes images of St Paul's Cathedral before the Fire (Collage numbers 5914. 5917)), representations of the fire (Collage numbers 4380. 11449, 27582), plans for rebuilding in the immediate aftermath (Collage numbers 30303, 30304) and many views of the Monument, built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City (Collage numbers 4874, 4880).