r1 Language Paper 2 – The Great Fire of London, 1666

This extract is taken from Samuel Pepys’ (pronounced PEEPS) diary, September 1666. In this extract, Pepys is describing the Great Fire of London, which came just one year after the Great Plague.

VZ-9FQ28Jane, a housemaid, called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose and slipped on my nightgown, and went to her window, and thought it to be on the backside of Marke-lane at the farthest; but, being unused to such fires as followed, I thought it far enough off; and so went to bed again and to sleep.

About seven I rose again to dress myself, and there looked out of the window, and saw the fire not so much as it was and further off. By and by Jane comes and tells me that she hears that above 300 houses have been burned down to-night by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down Fish-street, by London Bridge.360ft-wooden-model-of-London.jpg4_

So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places, Sir J. Robinson’s little son going up with me; and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge. The Lieutenant of the Tower told me that it begun this morning in the King’s baker’s’ house in Pudding Lane, and that it hath burned St. Magnus’ Church and most part of Fish-street already.

So I down to the water-side, and there got a boat and through bridge, and there saw a lamentable fire. Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river or bringing them into lighters that layoff; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the water-side to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loathe to leave their nests, but hovered about the windows and balconies till they were some of them burned and fell down.