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London, Londoners and the Great Fire of 1666 : Disaster and Recovery (Hardcover) (Jacob F. Field)
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On the 2 September 1666 a fire broke out in London’s Pudding Lane that burned for three days, destroying over 13,000 houses and 87 parish churches. Drawing upon both qualitative and quantitative sources, Disaster and Recovery examines how London and the nation at large reacted to this devastating event. Beginning with a succinct narrative account of the fire and the subsequent rebuilding of London, the book then explores the response in terms of household movement and residential structure. Using Hearth Tax assessment records it determines what the topographic effects of the Fire were, and how it affected individual Londoners. It further reveals the degree of continuity in London’s social post-fire landscape, and the extent to which the Fire affected longer term shifts in the topographic structure of the metropolis. By comparing and contrasting two London neighbourhoods - the prosperous parish of St Gregory by St Paul’s, and four less wealthy riverside parishes clustered around Pudding Lane - the book reveals how individuals of different social statuses responded to the Fire within the context of these neighbourhoods.
Economic responses to the Fire are also elucidated by looking at the reactions of two trade groups - London’s booksellers and the Merchant Taylors’ Livery Company – to show how distinct groups reacted to the economic disruption caused by the Fire, and where they resettled in the post-disaster metropolis. It further casts light on the effect of occupation, age, gender, and locality on the ability of individuals to recover after the Fire. The book concludes with an analysis of the cultural reaction to the Fire - through an examination of printed and manuscript media - to show how the perception of the Fire changed and to what polemical ends its memory was used for.