2016 sees the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and throughout this momentous year, City of London institutions are marking it through a season of specially curated events. The first two Halls of the Plaisterers’ Company were sadly destroyed by fire. The first, located on the corner of Addle Street and Philip Lane was consumed by the Great Fire of 1666. The second, which was built from the of Sir Christopher Wren in 1669 was destroyed by yet another fire in 1882. The Great Fire began on 2nd September 1666 in a bakery on Pudding Lane and raged on for three days. It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parishes, St Paul’s Cathedral and many other civic buildings until only one-fifth of the city remained and hundreds of thousands left destitute. The Great Fire changed the cityscape of London indelibly.
From 30th August to 4th September, the Square Mile and beyond will be brought to life through a variety of art installations, performances, and talks that will provide a contemporary perspective on a significant point in the country’s history. The London’s Burning festival, produced by the Artichoke Trust, is a series of engaging events across the city to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London.
Here are some key events to look forward to:
Fancy a game of life-size dominoes? You could be one of 600 volunteers required for the setup of this sculptural performance. 26,000 breezeblocks dominoes will be lined up along the Square Mile. Once the first block is tipped, the route will split into three, following the paths the Great Fire took through the City. Setup will be from 3pm and start at 6.30pm, 3rd September.
One of France’s most predominant street art groups, Compagnie Carabosse will be transforming the front lawn of the Tate Modern into a Fire Garden. Experience fire like never before with burning structures and flickering candles. Live music will also accompany the spectacle from 8pm-11pm, 1-3 September.
Join Fire investigator Peter Mansi for an enlightening talk covering the forensics of the Great Fire at the Museum of London. He will discuss how events would have turned out differently if modern science and technology were available at the time. Part of an ongoing series of free lectures, 3pm, 7th September.
The Great Fire of 1666 consumed the medieval St Paul’s Cathedral, where Sir Christopher Wren’s Baroque masterpiece now stands. St Paul’s Cathedral will be open late for two evenings for the festival. The public will be able to take photos [usually not allowed] in the atmospheric settings of the Cathedral floor and Crypt as well as view objects scorched by the fire in their Out of the Fire Exhibition. Tickets are £10 with booking in advance recommended; 6pm-9pm on 2-3 September.
For one of the biggest events of the festival, the public will be able to see a 120m wooden sculpture of London be set alight on the River Thames. Designed by American burn artist David Best in collaboration with Artichoke and working with children and young people from five boroughs, London 1666 is an epic representation of 17th century London. The grand-scale sculpture will be set afloat on the Thames between Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges and then alight from 6pm on Sunday 4th September. You can also watch the live stream event here.
For further information about the London’s Burning Festival and other Great Fire 350 events please visit the website.