Pepys, Wren and the Great Fire of London

The Great Fire of London

The Great Fire is, arguably, the most important watershed in the history of London. In three days it laid waste 436 acres and destroyed 87 churches and more than 1,300 houses. Occurring hard on the heels of the Great Plague, it took place in the year of the devil’s number and only six years after the Restoration. This talk explores the events of 1666 through the diary of Samuel Pepys. Not only was he an eye-witness to the Fire but he helped to persuade Charles II to use gunpowder to contain it.

Sir Christopher Wren and the Rebuilding of London

Sir Christopher Wren oversaw the rebuilding of 52 churches and the designs for Hampton Court, Chelsea Hospital and the Royal Naval College. His career is emblematic of a generation that survived the instability of the civil war, the vicissitudes of the later Stuarts and the accession of the Hanoverian dynasty.
This second talk looks at Wren’s career in the context of the emergence of Britain as a European maritime power. It will pay particular attention to his work at St Paul’s and his development of Greenwich as the show-piece of London and as its gateway to the world.

Related Lectures:
These two talks were inspired by the anniversary of 1666. In addition I offer an unlisted talk about ‘The Normans in Sicily’ to coincide with the 150th anniversary of 1066. I also offer talks about ‘London’s Royal Palaces and the City’ and ‘Victorian London: Doctors, Lawyers and Engineers’.