Source 5

Charles II’s declaration to London in 1666 (SP 9/171)


In the first place the woful experience in this late heavy visitation hath sufficiently convinced all men of the pernicious consequences which have attended the building with Timber, and even with Stone itself, and the notable benefit of Brick, which in so many places hath resisted and even extinguished the Fire; And we do therefore declare Our express Wil and Pleasure, That no man whatsoever shal presume to erect any House or Building, great or small, but of Brick or Stone, and if any man shal do the contrary, the next Magistrate shall forthwith cause it to be pulled down, .

.all other eminent and notorious Streets, shal be of such a breadth, as may with Gods blessing prevent the mischief that one side may suffer if the other be on fire, .

.nor wil we suffer any Lanes or Allyes to be erected, but where upon mature deliberation the same shal be found absolutely necessary,

…no house shall be erected within so many foot of the River,

.any houses to be inhabited by Brewers, or Diers, or Sugar-Bakers, which Trades by their continual Smoaks contribute very much to the unhealthiness of the adjacent places, but We require the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London upon a ful consideration, and weighing all conveniences and inconveniences that can be foreseen, to propose such a place as may be fit for all those Trades which are carried on by smoak to inhabit together, .

Simplified transcript

Firstly, the sad experience of the fire has shown us all the bad results of building with wood, and even with stone, and the good benefits of brick, which in so many places did not catch fire. And it is the King’s wish that no man shall build any house or building, large or small, unless it is made of brick or stone. And if any man does not do this, his house will be pulled down.

All of the main streets shall be wide enough to (God willing) stop a fire spreading from one side to the other.

No lanes or alleys will be built unless we think they are really needed.

No houses shall be built near the river.

Brewers (making beer), dyers (colouring cloth) or bakers are trades whose constant smoke makes nearby places unhealthy. The Lord Mayor and the men who run London must think of a place where all those trades which use fire can be housed together.

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5. King Charles praised the courage of the people in the fire. He hoped to see a more beautiful city rebuilt. He also made plans to prevent another fire. Here are some of his plans.

  • How did Charles plan to stop fires spreading in London? (Clue: There are five different ideas in this source.) How would each of these plans help to stop a fire from spreading?