By Permission of Heaven : The Story of the Great Fire of London Paperback
There had, of course, been other fires, Four Hundred and fifty years before, the city had almost burned to the ground.
Yet the signs from the heavens in 1666 were ominous: comets, pyramids of flame, monsters born in city slums.
Then, in the early hours on 2 September, a small fire broke out on the ground floor of a baker's house in Pudding Lane.
In five days that small fire would devastate the third largest city in the Western world.
Adrian Tinniswood's magnificent new account of the Great Fire of London explores the history of a cataclysm and its consequences.
It pieces together the untold human story of the Fire and its aftermath - the panic, the search for scapegoats, and the rebirth of a city.
Above all, it provides an unsurpassable recreation of what happened to schoolchildren and servants, courtiers and clergyman when the streets of London ran with fire.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 368 pages, Illustrations, facsims., maps, ports.
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 01/07/2004
- Category: British & Irish history
- ISBN: 9780712668477
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Review by john257hopper
This was a very readable and multi-faceted examination of this famous event, with a particular focus on the aftermath of the event (the conflagration is extinguished less than half way through the book). This deals extensively with the commendably rapid restoration of the city which got underway very quickly afterwards; the differing plans for reconstruction of the streets (some of which are so soulessly geometric one is grateful they were not taken forward); and, of course, though surprisingly briefly, with Wren's new St Paul's. On the positive side, many other communities in England raised considerable sums of money for stricken and homeless Londoners. On the other hand, another factor extensively covered is the widespread but erroneous view that the fire was deliberately started by Dutch or Catholic plotters, with indiscriminate attacks on foreigners during the events and "Papists" even officially blamed on the inscription near the Monument in Pudding Lane for a century and a half afterwards. It was clearly an emotionally shattering and destabilising event for contemporaries, especially after the Great Plague the year before. Excellent read, and quotes from Pepys always add colour.