Great Fire of London

In September 1666, the Great Fire of London broke out - a three day long fire resulting in the destruction of 80 percent of the City of London, plus some of Westminster.

It started in Pudding Lane (a lane named for a 'product' produced by butchers and transported along the lane to the river). This was just after midnight on Sunday 2nd September. It spread mostly westwards due to the wind. On Tuesday evening, St. Paul's succumbed. By Wednesday it had been largely contained (thanks also to the wind dropping).

Lord Mayor at the time was Bloodworth (sometimes given as Bludworth).

England was at war at the time and there were rumors that the fire was started by the Dutch (which was reasonable enough) although seemingly rumors also abounded about a Dutvh invasion (which was more hysterical).

(Fire broke out in Southwark in 1676).

The grey area shows the extent of the fire on the first day. Pudding Lane lies within this grey area, just to the East of London Bridge

Contemporary map - the destroyed areas shown in 'white'.

Gresham College was saved (just), mostly because of the direction of the wind but the fire was also obstructed by the stone Leadenhall market.

Gresham College is just off the picture at the top right

Slightly displaced view from the previous one, with Gresham College arrowed

Re-building London

Hooke had already prepared a plan for reconstruction by 19th. September. His plan was not followed out for reasons involving cost andd time (just like five other plans).

The City of London appointed him on 4th. October 1666 to the six-member Commission for Re-construction, whose first task was to deliver a recommendation for widening of the roads and the abolition of alleys. (Christopher Wren was one of the three commissioners to be appointed by the King - until 1673 he was also Professor of Astronomy at Oxford University)).

Full royal 'team' was Wren, May and Pratt.

From 31st. October 1666 the Commission began working out regulations for building.

During this period Hooke investigated, under an order of the Royal Society, the load-carrying properties of bricks made from different clays, bricks that were to be used for the new buildings.

On 8th. February 1667, Charles II. gave his approval to the first Rebuilding Act and confirmed the new building regulations worked out by Hooke but reserved his approval to the proposed road widenings. The Court of Common Council delivered the the appropriate laws for the road widenings on 13th. March 1667 and decided on the same day to engage Peter Mills (15981670), Edward Jerman (ca. 16051668), Hooke and John Oliver (1616/16171701) as surveyors. Salary was £ 150 p.a.

Hooke and Mills began on 27th. March 1667 with the marking out of new streets in Fleet Street. They had finished this work within nine weeks.

The majority of surveying tasks were completed by the end of 1671, by which time 95 percentage of the building plots had been surveyed.

In 1670 the City Churches Rebuilding Act appeared, in which the rebuilding of 51 parish churches was determined. Christopher Wren, who was responsible for carrying this out, employed Hooke "First Officer" of his architectural office. Hooke supervided the progress of building together with Wren and began to design buildings himself.

1671 Second Rebuilding Act

He was eventually replaced in Wren's firm by Nicholas Hawksmoor

Specific Buildings

Among the buildings attributed to Hooke are

Churches which are possibly a major work by Hooke (despite being nominally built by Christopher Wren's company) include St. Benet's Paul's Wharf, St Edmund the King, St Martin in Ludgate.

1670 quayside along the river

St. James Square

Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam)

It was decided to rebuild the hospital on Moorfields, which was done between 1675 - 1676.

The new building was over 150 m wide and about 12 m deep.The surrounding walls were about 210 m long and 21 m deep, the south-facing rear wall being screened by a 200 m stretch of London's city wall

It accommodated initially one-hundred and twenty patients. This structure only had cells and chambers on one side of the building, with great galleries 4.0 m high and 4.9 m wide that ran the length of both floors of the building

On completion it was London's first major charitable building to be built since the Savoy Hospital (150517) and one of only a handful of public buildings then finished in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London (1666). It would be regarded, at least early on its career, as one of the "Prime Ornaments of the City ... and a noble Monument to Charity". Not least due to the increase in visitor numbers which the new building allowed, the hospital's fame and latterly infamy grew and it would be this magnificently expanded Bethlem that would shape English and international depictions of madness and its treatment.

The builder was William Hammond

The site is now Finsbury Circus

Royal College of Physicians

On Warwick Lane - rebuilt between 1671-79.

The octagonal dissecting room became a well-known feature. The building burnt down in in the 19th. century. A panelled room from the college is now to be found in Regent's Park, I believe.

Montagu House

Built 1674-1680, Montagu House stood on the present site of the British Museum.

It was severley damaged by fire in 1686, although general opinion is that damage was mostly internal.

Montagu became embroiled in the Popish Plot.



1672-1674 on Fish Hill Street

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral, Dome is shell-like in comparison with Brunelleschi's dome for the Duomo.

Merchant Taylors Hall

interior wooden screen of the hall was destroyed during the Second World War

Buildings outside London

Ragley Hall

Located 13 km west of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is the ancestral seat of the Marquess of Hertford (formerly Earl of Conway)

Official Website

Ramsbury Manor

finished 1683, mostly William James


Was built for Richard Busby (Hooke's headmaster at Westminster School). It is often described on the Internet as a 'classic of the early English Baroque period'. The builder was Roger Bates.

Willen Church's own website

Views of Willen Church on Flickr

another church Roger Lowther 1679


Lutton in Lincoln, where Busby was born.

Tangier Mole

1676 (Tangier being an English colony at the time), damaged by storms in 1673-4

garden, Londesborough Park Burlington

Notes:-sash windows, upmarket residences in St. James Square