Friday, May 09, 2014

Museum of London

It was totally random that we ended up here on our first day – really, we were just wandering around looking for anything that would keep our eyes open until a reasonable bedtime. But visiting the museum early in your trip is a great idea and I highly recommend going there directly after the Indian YMCA.

London’s history is so vast, it’s hard to figure out where to begin. But here I found what became my obsession over much of the trip: the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666.

The Great Fire: detail from an anonymous painting. (Image: Wikipedia)
The plague killed at least one out of every six London residents – James Leasor’s highly entertaining book The Plague and the Fire, from which I cribbed much of the detail I'll be sharing in future posts, argues convincingly that it was more like one in four. The fire that roared through a year later wiped out 90 percent of the city’s housing.

It was like a neutron bomb followed by firebombs and I think, short of war, it was about the worst two years any city could have. By reading up on them, and going out to see the associated sites, you get a stereoscopic view of life in London in days gone by.

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