at Museum of London
Until 17th April 2017
It’s 350 years since The Great Fire of London broke out in at Thomas Farriner’s bakery in Pudding Lane on a warm, breezy night in September 1666. To commemorate this devastating event in London’s long history, the Museum of London has opened a new exhibition, Fire! Fire!
Living, as I do, in central London you only have to look around you to register the effect the Great Fire has had on this great city. The old buildings of medieval, pre-17th century London have been completely lost. But in this exhibition at the Museum of London has brought the 1660s streets of London back to life. Fire! Fire! begins with a walk down a recreation of a narrow and dark Pudding Lane with low doorways, jettied overhanging timber work and the sights and sounds of 17th century London.
This is an immensely theatrical exhibition, with an almost stage-set concept, all dark corners and flickering flames. Sometimes Fire! Fire! goes from the theatrical to the positively odd – quite bizarrely, there is a map of 1666 London projected onto a giant loaf of bread which shows the progression of the fire as it burned from east to west across the city.
On the more conventional side are exhibits which demonstrate the damage and the extreme temperatures of the Great Fire of London. On show are a variety of twisted and warped fire-damaged household objects such as pottery, plates, bricks, tiles, ceramics and glass which have been uncovered in archaeological excavations. One of the star objects on show is the Museum of London’s fire engine from the late 1670s, faithfully restored by traditional methods for the exhibition. Other pieces of firefighting equipment on display include a squirt, a leather bucket and a fire hook, which are all put to the test in a touch screen game challenging players to save a row of houses from the Great Fire.
But as a Londoner myself, perhaps the most heartening and moving part of Fire! Fire! is the last part of the exhibition which explores the aftermath of the Great Fire and shows how London and Londoners recovered from the devastation and how the city was rebuilt. Whilst we never did get the London street plan envisioned by Sir Christopher Wren, we did get his splendid St Paul’s Cathedral (and indeed many other City churches) and we can be proud of the resilience of Londoners to overcome such a huge setback.
Fire! Fire! is on at Museum of London until 17th April 2017.
From £8 for adults and £4 for children online.
Family tickets also available.
Opening Hours: Daily 10am – 6pm
Museum of London
Information: www.museumoflondon.org.uk/fire- fire