Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Pepys: Fire of London

On Pudding Lane, on 2 September 1666, the King's baker went to bed unaware that his oven was still alight. Soon London was ablaze. Dramatised from Pepys' diary by Hattie Naylor.

London in 1666 was a health and safety nightmare. It was illegal to build with wood and thatch but people did it anyway. Foundries were forbidden in the city but that didn't stop them operating. Charles II had banned dangerous overhanging windows but this was ignored by local government who carried on building them regardless. Many homes still contained muskets and gunpowder left over from Cromwell's time. Six hundred tons of highly potent gunpowder were stored in the Tower of London itself. Riverfront warehouses were full of oil and tallow. There was no fire service.

In Pudding Lane, on 2 September, after a day of slaving over a hot oven, Thomas Farrinor, baker to King Charles II, went to bed unaware that his oven was still alight. The smouldering embers ignited some nearby firewood and by 1 o'clock in the morning his house was ablaze. A strong wind on that September morning ensured that sparks flew everywhere . . .

Samuel Pepys' diary of the following days, dramatised by Hattie Naylor, reveals the unfolding drama of 350 years ago.

Theme music: Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, words by Robert Herrick and music by William Lawes, sung by Bethany Hughes. Lute, baroque guitar and theorbo played by David Miller. Violin and viol by Annika Gray, and recorders by Alice Baxter.
Historical consultant: Liza Picard
Sound by Nigel Lewis

A BBC/Cymru Wales production, directed by Kate McAll.

1 hour

Last on

Sat 3 Sep 2016 14:30


Role Contributor
Samuel Pepys Kris Marshall
Elizabeth Pepys Katherine Jakeways
Will John Biddle
King Charles Ewan Bailey
Jane Rebecca Newman
Mayor Bludworth Matthew Gravelle
Mr Howells Dick Bradnum
Mr Houblon Richard Nichols
Mrs Wood Siriol Jenkins
Mrs Batelier Eiry Thomas
Author Samuel Pepys
Adaptor Hattie Naylor
Director Kate McAll


Drama of the Week Podcast

Drama of the Week Podcast

Download a new drama from Radio 4 or Radio 3 every week.