Ruin, Wren and Renewal by Stephen Chater
Stephen holds an MA in Modern History from the University of Oxford and has pursued a career as a solicitor in the City of London, including almost 25 years at the international law firm of Allen & Overy.
Although he is still engaged in legal practice in the City on a part-time basis, he is also a qualified City of London tour guide, an Associate of the Institute of Tourist Guiding and is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers. He regularly leads walks in the City on a variety of themes and gives talks on subjects related to both the City of London and to Surrey. He is also a member of the Probus Club of Claygate, the Churches Conservation Trust, the Church Monuments Society and The Arts Society.
The talk aimed to separate fact from fiction regarding the causes and the progress of the Great Fire of London in 1666 and began with an extract from “1066 And All That” which illustrated how far the story could be misunderstood. After a short summary of the origins of the Fire, Stephen looked at the ways in which the population responded and sought to combat it.
Stephen discussed the way in which buildings were constructed at the time, and how and why the Fire spread so quickly.
The reaction of large sections of the population against foreigners, and Roman Catholics in particular, was noted. This was followed by the story of Robert Hubert who was hanged for causing the Fire.
Plans to rebuild the City were considered, but the authorities were too keen to get back to business as usual to allow Sir Christopher Wren to develop his ideas for a new street plan for London.
Stephen then explained how the Monument’s original prominence had been prejudiced by the relocation of London Bridge in the 1830s. He concluded by pointing out that, although the official death toll in the Fire was six, as many as seven deaths had been caused by falls from the top of the Monument.
For those of you who would like a more in depth account of the Great Fire of London, it is suggested that you search Google where there are many fascinating items on this most devastating of events.
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