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7 Other Great Fires of London

In September of 1666, the city of London burned to the ground, leaving 80,000 people homeless. This became known as the Great Fire of London. Maybe that title was given to distinguish it from all the other great fires that leveled the city in its history. In fact, London has been destroyed by fire about a dozen times, beginning when the city was only about twenty years old.


After the death of her husband Prasutagus in the mid-1st century CE, lands that should rightfully have passed to the ancient British queen Boudicea and her daughters were instead claimed by the invading Roman Empire. Before then, Boadicea’s tribe, the Iceni, had been allied with the Romans, but the entire affair soured that relationship.

Enraged, Boudicea sacked the Roman city at modern Colchester and marched her army on towards London—or rather, to the newly founded Roman settlement of Londinium—and burned it to the ground. So total was Boadicea’s destruction of the city that archaeologists working the capital today can still identify a noticeable thin layer of red-brown oxidized ash on the site occupying the original settlement, and Roman coins melted together by the extreme heat have even been found along the muddy banks of the Thames.

The city was rebuilt, only to be leveled again and again by fire. Read about the destruction of six more London fires at Mental Floss. The last conflagration listed was in 1794, so we can assume that building codes and firefighting techniques are protecting the city from such widespread fire now. Knock wood.

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