New origin of Great Fire of London

10 February, 2016

The Great Fire of London started in a bakery on Pudding Lane, right? Wrong. Academic Dorian Gerhold has found new evidence to suggest otherwise.

The new research shows that the blaze did start in Thomas Farriner’s bakery, as previously thought, but that the bakery stood in what is now Monument Street. 350 years ago the fire devastated London, sweeping through 436 acres of the city and destroying 13,200 houses and 87 churches.

The information is based on a planning document from 1679, found within the bowels of the London Metropolitan Archives, and published in this week’s Country Life magazine.

The exact location of Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane had been lost in the mists of time. The Monument, the Doric column erected to remember the fire, bears an inscription that states only that the blaze began 202 feet away - the same distance as the height of the memorial itself.

Researching buildings

Gerhold, an academic who is researching buildings erected in the capital before 1720, unearthed a 1679 survey of the site of Farriner’s bakery. In doing so, he found the true location of the start of the Great Fire.

Towards the rear of the property, a note on the survey reads: “Mr Fariners grounde there the Fyer began.”

Mr Gerhold was able to cross reference the plot with later maps of the area, including the 1886 plans for the creation of Monument Street, the road that leads to the famous column.

Those plans, combined with measuring 202 feet from the Monument itself, show that the oven was located on what is now the cobbled surface of Monument Street, 60 feet east of Pudding Lane.

"I assumed it was known"

Gerhold said: “I assumed it was known. It was only later when I tried to check it that I realised that no one else knew.

"The site had been left empty, because there was an assumption that – like with the Twin Towers in New York – they shouldn’t build on it. Someone applied to use the land as storage, so people were sent to do a report, and that is what I found.”

Gerhold’s report will be published in the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society Transactions journal later this year.

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