Given the state of London in 1666, the Great Fire was an accident waiting to happen.
It started in Thomas Farriner’s bakery in Pudding Lane at about 1am on September 2. This area was close to the river and was occupied with warehouses and shops full of combustible materials, such as oil, coal, timber, pitch and alcohol. Once these caught fire a strong wind spread the flames along the wharves and into the City. After a long, dry summer the City acted like kindling and the fire seemed unstoppable.
However, most people at the time thought the fire had been started deliberately. Accusations were quick to fly and an official investigation was set up as to the cause. The public needed a scapegoat and before the investigation was complete, an unfortunate Frenchman, Robert Hubert, was tried and hung as the arsonist.
Why was it claimed that the fire was started by a Catholic conspiracy?