London 1666: The Return of the Great Fire of London

2nd September 2016

London’s Burning is a series of events taking place across the Capital between the 30th of August to the 4th of September to mark the 350th anniversary of the 1666 Great Fire of London. The London’s Burning project was launched to bring London to life with a series of art installations, performances and talks that will give a contemporary perspective on a significant moment in the Country’s history.

Artichoke Trust appointed Setsquare as part of the production team in the making and delivery of David Best’s “artistic impression of the skyline” of 17th century London. David Best is renowned for building wooden constructions, which are set alight in the Burning Man festivals in the US. To run the project, Jonathan Bartlett was appointed as the production manager to oversee the build and installation of the 120-metre long structure, which included 190 buildings to replicate 1666 London.

Artichoke director, Helen Marriage, described the London 1666 project as:

An artistic response that addresses the impact of the Great Fire of London on the city, its inhabitants and buildings, and how it emerged from the ashes and evolved to the resilient city it is today.”

The London 1666 project involved young people across several boroughs to take part in the construction of the piece, allowing them to experience a unique and collaborative working environment. These boroughs included: Camden, Hackney, Islington, Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets. In addition, the young volunteers were provided with an opportunity to gain a CSCS certificate and further employment qualifications.

A bit of History

As flames ravaged his beloved city, diarist Samuel Pepys wrote:

It made me weep to see it”.

On the 2nd of September 1666, the citizens of London woke to see the skyline above the city’s cramped wooden houses ablaze. The fire started in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane in the early hours of the morning. By the time it burned out on the 5th of September, around 13,000 buildings had been destroyed, including the original St Pauls Cathedral, 87 parish churches, the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange and 52 company halls. Between 65,000 to 80,000 people lost their homes, whilst a handful were recorded as being killed. Hence, the importance in commemorating the event and the future regeneration projects that had taken place after the Great Gire of London.

The Event

You can watch the event on the Victoria Embankment of the River Thames, between Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, on Sunday 4th of September at 8:30pm. However, if you are unable to attend, Artichoke have partnered up with The Space so that you can watch the spectacular event online and be part of an event that will continue to burn bright in our hearts long after the fire has died.