History KS1: 2. What happened during The Great Fire of London?

We learn how The Fire spread across the city and how the Lord Mayor, Samuel Pepys and King Charles II were all involved alongside the people of London.

2. What happened during The Great Fire of London?

Pupils are introduced to Samuel Pepys, who wrote about The Fire in his famous diary and also reported on it to King Charles II.

The king commanded Pepys to go to the Lord Mayor and order him to pull down the buildings in an effort to halt the fire.

Many people left London, taking their possessions with them. Others buried items to keep them safe, including Pepys who buried his cheese and wine in his garden.


Teacher's Notes
Daily news: what happened today?
Redesigning London: my city
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Teachers’ notes

Before the video

Show pupils some cheese, wine, gold and a diary and ask what they think these might have to do with the next part of the story.

Ask them to make a prediction.

During the video

Who was Samuel Pepys? (A politician and administrator of the navy.)

Why is he significant? (He kept a diary which describes in detail two important events - The Plague of 1665 and The Great Fire of London.)

Who was Charles II? (The monarch at the time. He is known as the ‘Merry Monarch’ because he enjoyed a busy social life, especially going to the theatre. He ruled from 1660 - 1685.)

What did people do during the fire? How did they respond? (Some stayed in London and helped to put it out. Some took their possessions and escaped.)

What did Samuel Pepys bury? (Cheese and wine.)

Why did he do this? (They were expensive items and valuable to him.)

After the video

Write an extract from Samuel Pepys’ diary and explain your worries about The Fire.

Look at an image of The Fire - list the reasons you can see that show why The Fire spread so quickly.

Write a letter to the Lord Mayor to plead with him to use fire-hooks to tear down buildings, thus creating firebreaks .

Class debate - Who was to blame for The Fire? Look at different roles and what people did during The Fire. Is there somebody to blame? Children share ideas based on evidence.

Curriculum Notes

This film is relevant for teaching History at KS1 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 1st Level in Scotland.


Consolidate pupils' learning about The Great Fire of London with these three catchy songs from our Music pages.

1. Here in Pudding Lane
2. Fire, fire, everywhere!
3. Let’s get building!

Additional songs about The Great Fire of London - including 'London's burning!' sung as a round.

More from this series

1. Why did The Great Fire of London happen?
3. What happened after The Great Fire of London?
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See also...

The Gunpowder Plot
The Great Fire of London: Music, Dance and Drama activities (audio)
Castles and Knights