Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

Travelogue - Rebuilt 1667 (212.8)

One of the really striking things about my visit to London was the realization that virtually the entire city had to be reinvented in 1666-1667, after the London fire of 1666 decimated the city.

Ye Olde Cheshire CheeseAmong other things, The Monument is to commemorate the firefighters who tried in vain to stop the massive fire, but who managed to extinguish it after a few days and keep the death toll down. (The official count of six fatalities is regarded as improbable; deaths of lower- and even middle-class residents might never have been recorded, and some in the fire's path might have been incinerated beyond the point of recognizable remains.)

The result is that most of the central city of London dates to the late 17th century, coincidentally about the same time as much of the central urban development in Boston and New York City. A lot of buildings and businesses around London bear a "Founded 1667" or "Built 1667" or "Rebuilt 1667" legend. (It's interesting that most of London was rebuilt with the same narrow streets in the same pattern, even when that could've been avoided or improved upon. I guess wider streets were still pretty unimportant at that point.)

Wlliamson's Tavern, where we stopped for a quick pint on Wednesday evening, dates to shortly after the fire, though it wasn't a tavern at first. It's believed to currently hold the city's oldest excise license. But Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese seems to have been in continuous operation since 1667, and dates back before the fire, with a pub on that spot since 1538. Charles Dickens and a number of other literary figures frequented the place, and Dickens even immortalized it in "A Tale of Two Cities." We had a very good lunch there on Saturday.

( Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese photos... )

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