Never-before-seen archaeological artefacts from forthcoming exhibition, Fire! Fire! unveiled

10 March 2016

Fire! Fire!

Museum of London

23 July 2016 – 17 April 2017

Sponsored by Eversheds

Today, the Museum of London revealed further details about its forthcoming major exhibition, Fire! Fire!, opening this July.

Marking the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, the exhibition will focus on life on the eve of the fire, the dramatic events that took place as the blaze burned through a quarter of the city in 1666, and how London recovered from the devastation. As one of London’s most enduringly popular historical events, Fire! Fire! is expected to have broad appeal, especially with families and school groups.

Fire! Fire! is designed to be one of the Museum of London’s most immersive and interactive exhibitions to date, with setworks to recreate Pudding Lane and a huge moving panorama of London in flames. A variety of incredibly fragile flame-scarred archaeological artefacts reveal the destructive power of the inferno, while letters from eyewitnesses who escaped convey the terror and desperation that ordinary Londoners felt in the face of the fire.

Highlights announced today include:

  • A ceramic roof tile which should be flat and terracotta in colour has blackened, melted and bent in half. The damage shows that temperatures must have been over 1500oC. The tile was found in excavations of a house on Botolph Lane that had been destroyed by the fire.
  • Burnt padlocks and keys made from iron, found at Monument House excavations on Botolph Lane, near Pudding Lane.
  • A letter written by “sorrowful” James Hicks on 4 September 1666 to inform postmasters of the “great loss and sufferings” from the fire. James Hicks worked at the post office in the City which burnt down shortly after 1am on 3 September. He and his family escaped to Barnet, taking as many letters as they could.
  • A letter written by Robert Flatman on 9 September 1666 to his brother Thomas, a barrister who worked in the city but was out of town for the fire. Robert writes “your Chamber in the Temple is down, but your books are safe”, suggesting that he saved these items before Thomas’ rooms at the Temple were destroyed.

Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, said:

“Fire! Fire! showcases the very best of the Museum of London. Given our mission to tell the story of the world’s greatest city and its people, it is only right that we honour the anniversary of the Great Fire of London, a truly iconic moment in London’s history, with a major exhibition which will be a great day out for adults and children alike.”

Meriel Jeater, Great Fire of London exhibition curator, said:

“As one of London’s most famous historical disasters, people often assume that there is nothing new to discover about the Great Fire of London. In fact, there are still numerous unconfirmed hypotheses about how and why the fire started, as well as a number of myths that have built up over the years. We seek to shed new light on the events of September 1666 with our rich collections of never-before-seen 17th century archaeological artefacts.”

Pamela Thompson, London Senior Office Partner at Eversheds, said:

“It is important to recognise the role the Museum of London plays in the Capital and the extensive work it does, not just as a museum showcasing our wonderful history, but in its work with Londoners and schoolchildren across the city. The 350 th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, and the legacy of that event in the Capital’s history, is one that we see as resonating in the challenges and opportunities for present day London and its place in the global economy. Our sponsorship will help us, with the Museum of London, explore the challenges of housing, infrastructure and investment as well as the new opportunities London can leverage to build on its long history of change and adaptation and set this against the background of the immense challenges it faced after the Great Fire and those it still faces today.”

Fire! Fire! is part of Great Fire 350, a programme of events and activities in partnership with the City of London Corporation, Barbican, Artichoke and others to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. Further information on the exhibition and wider programme will be announced in 2016.

Fire! Fire! runs from 23 July 2016 – 17 April 2017 and will be accompanied by a programme of talks and events. Tickets priced from £8 for adults and £5 for children online, family tickets are available.

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