Fire! Plague! Revolution! London 1666: capital of calamities tour
Explore the history of London’s most terrible decade through the eyes of a doctor!
In a nation where the reverberations of a bloody civil war could still be felt, it was the darkest of years for its greatest city. Divided across lines of class and religion, still feeling the after effects of The Great Plague, The Great Fire came and seemed unstoppable, engulfing everything before it in flames for days on end.
Though the conflagration claimed the Royal College of Physicians’ home in the shadow of the fallen St Paul’s, the remains of its archives and the records of its reconstruction tell a story of how apparently disparate events: civil war, disease and fire are, in fact, closely related.
Beginning with a guided visit to the special exhibition 'To fetch out the fire', we discover the range of 'cures' that medical professionals used throughout the 17th century to treat war wounds, plague fevers and first degree burns. Then learn that, as soon as the fires were quelled, the physicians and others started the process of rebuilding and healing their city.
Venturing into an area that was then outside the city proper we unearth how the civil war weakened London, leaving it susceptible to disease and fiery destruction. We visit the location of the 'human shield' that Cromwell threw around the capital to prevent invasion by Royalist forces and how it became a temporary home for those seeking shelter from first the curse of contagion and then the annihilation of flames.
Finally we uncover the untold story of how these refugees from fire, plague and revolution made a new city in the West End. An Enlightenment phoenix rising from the ashes.
This tour reveals London as a 'capital of calamities' born of the scourges and disasters of the 17th century to golden age in the glittering, but brutal, 18th century and how catastrophe continues to shape the city right up to the present day.
The walk commences at The Royal College of Physicians and lasts around 2½ hours including a highlights tour of the Royal College, its museum and collections*.
Free online booking for our scheduled events is highly recommended using Eventbrite. A small number of turn-up tickets are available on the day, but cannot be guaranteed.
“Fire! Plague! Revolution!” is also available as a private tour at any time by prior arrangement, subject to a minimum charge.
For further details or to make a group booking for a private tour please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
* On occasion access to the Royal College of Physicians may be limited due to events or works being carried out.