In 1347 news reached England of a horrifying and incurable disease that was spreading from Asia through North Africa and Europe. The Black Death struck London in autumn 1348. Over the next 18 months it killed half of all Londoners - perhaps 40,000 out of a population of 80,000.
Evidence of this catastrophic event can be found in cemeteries excavated in London, such as one discovered near the Tower of London in 1987. Here mass graves contained the bodies of 300 people, laid up to five deep.