FIRE! FIRE! at the Museum of London

Fire! Fire! Pour on Water! my primary school days echoed to the sound of that round as we practiced over and over again for an inter-schools singing get-together.  We all know about the Great Fire of London, dates and causes committed to memory…. 1666, started in Pudding Lane from a baker’s oven.  When the Junior CW’s studied the fire in Year 2, we made the pilgrimage to the Monument only to discover halfway up that one child was deeply fearful of the spiral staircase and wanted to go neither up nor down.  Now to mark the 350 anniversary of the Fire, the Museum of London has put on a special show.

Fire! Fire!

Stepping inside FIRE! FIRE! is like plunging headlong into a woodcut picture.  Black, white and flame red are the colours here.  You start at dusk, the night before the fire, in a narrow street with some rather fine carved jetty brackets, supporting the overhanging first floors.  Windows are lit for you to glimpse through, a cat mews in the background and the smell of bread wafts around.  Then you turn the corner into a life size woodcut, flames are flickering from the bread oven and slowly spread, above the baker wakes, rouses his family and leaps from the first floor window.  The fire has begun.  How the fire spread is very neatly shown on an outsize loaf of bread, animated flames consume 436 acres destroying 13,000 houses and 87 churches in its wake.

Fire! Fire!

Firefighting was a rudimentary art in 1666.  We see a fearsome looking hook that would have been used to pull down thatch and buildings in an attempt to stop the fire spreading.  One device is little more than an oversized syringe.  It is no wonder that that the fire spread through the thatch and timber city.  Technology was improved in the wake of the fire and the museum has restored one of the newfangled fire engines but it still doesn’t look hugely effective.  Maybe just as well that any new buildings had to be made of stone!

Fire! Fire!

Fire consumed most of things that a museum might ordinarily show you, but people like Samuel Pepys wrote diaries and newspapers published eyewitness accounts.  Contemporary newspaper accounts are on display along with a set of virginals.  According to Pepys, one in three of the boats fleeing the conflagration was loaded with the instrument. Love a useless fact!

Fire Woodcut

Such widespread destruction left a blank canvas for architects and town planners.  All manner of fancy plans were put forward.  Christopher Wren proposed wide streets radiating out from a central point.  Existing property owners proved reluctant to the new plans and swiftly built on the existing sites leaving us with the medieval street plan.  If you fancy trying your hand at town planning there is a fine map complete with moveable wooden buildings to bring out your inner Wren.

If you want to know more about the Great Fire of London and are unable to get down to London the Museum of London has launched a website with all manner of information and games …… Minecraft fire of London anybody?  You can The Great Fire of London website by clicking here

23 July 2016 – 17April 2017
Open daily 10am-6pm
Admission: Adults £8, Children £4 when bought online, family tickets are available

Wander Mum


  1. July 29, 2016 / 11:48 am

    I was just talking about this with a friend. Her daughter has been studying it at school and they are planning to go to the exhibition. I’ll forward her your post.

    • Catherine
      July 29, 2016 / 1:42 pm

      Thank you. It is very good and kids will love it!

  2. July 31, 2016 / 5:12 pm

    Museums are becoming so interactive and engaging. I really hope this inspires many budding historian. Will take the kids along once summer hold madness has subsided. Thanks for sharing

  3. August 9, 2016 / 8:00 pm

    I’d been wondering what this exhibition was like. It looks great – I’ll have to take the kids.

    • Catherine
      August 9, 2016 / 8:19 pm

      Really good and very child friendly

  4. August 10, 2016 / 2:42 am

    Interesting to see an exhibit like this one that chronicles the history of the fire and what tools were used in those days to attempt to end this traumatic event. It was fascinating to learn about the background of the fire and how it consumed the city.

  5. August 10, 2016 / 6:31 am

    That’s such an interactive way of learning about historical facts. #CityTripping

  6. August 10, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    I have been so tempted to go along to this. My daughter hasn’t quite got to the stage of studying the Great Fire so I wasn’t sure about visiting with her but it sounds fascinating. #citytripping

    • Catherine
      August 10, 2016 / 8:28 pm

      Not scary, lots of stuff to do, flaps to lift, clothes to dress up in and a City to plan. Also a really good chill out area.

  7. August 11, 2016 / 9:59 am

    I’m so keen on seeing this and you’ve made me even more so! It sounds fantastic.

  8. August 13, 2016 / 5:56 pm

    This sounds like a really elaborate exhibition. I thoroughly enjoyed the Museum of London when I went but this special show wasn’t on – sounds brill. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

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