London’s Burning!

London’s burning, London’s burning,

Fetch the engines, fetch the engines;

Fire, fire, fire, fire!

Pour on water, pour on water.

Although many believe that this nursery rhyme is based on the Great Fire of London of 1666, there were in fact many serious fires in London’s history, and so it could refer to any (or all) of these devastating fires.

The first of these fires was in AD61 when Queen Boudicca and the Iceni tribe chased the Romans out of the settlement of Londinium and set the city alight.

In 675 fire again destroyed most of London including the wooden, Saxon St Paul’s Cathedral.

In 1087 St Paul’s was burned again during the reign of William Rufus, and then in 1561 St Paul’s was struck by lightning, and sadly suffered the consequences.

But the most well-known and best documented of all these fires was the Great Fire of London of 1666 when most of the city was sadly burnt to the ground.

The last time London was ablaze was in September 1940.  The German air raids ensured that the city would never be the same again.

And these are not the only fires London has had to fight.  The tightly packed houses, made mostly of wood and straw, and the many fires used for heating, cooking and light were not a good combination in the days gone by, and so, when exactly London was burning is anyone’s guess.

Dawn Denton©

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