On Sunday 2nd September 1666 the Great fire of London started in a (Thomas Farriner) baker’s house in Pudding Lane, Farriner’s maid was the first victim of the Fire. After looking at the fire, The Lord Mayor, Thomas Bludworth, said ‘A woman might piss it out’. unfortunately this never happened and the fire raged for three days before it was finally extinguished. During the 17th century most of the buildings in London were built from wood, accelerating the fire as it swept through the city destroying thousands of houses and numerous other buildings.
After the fire London was to be rebuilt, and a permanent memorial was called for, the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren and his friend and colleague, Dr Robert Hooke designed a colossal Doric column. Work began in 1671 and was completed in 1677. The reason it took this long is due to the difficulty of getting a sufficient quantity of Portland stone of the required dimensions. This caused the king to issue a proclamation, dated 4th May 1669, forbidding any person to transport stone from the Ise of Portland without leave from Dr. Christopher Wren, the Surveyor-General. Inside the column there is a spiral staircase with a 311 steps which leads to a viewing platform. The Monument is 61 meters high (202 feet) which is the exact distance between it and the site in Pudding Lane where the fire began. The pillar is not only the tallest but the finest isolated stone column in the world. A total of 6 people have committed suicide by jumping off the monument, in 1842 the building was temporarily closed while an iron cage was fitted to prevent anymore attempts.
I climbed it recently, it cost £3, if you can handle the 311 steps up the spiral staircase, then its defiantly worth it, the views are great, plus it’s such a unique piece of history.
Source – http://www.themonument.info/
On the Museum of London website there is a Timeline of the Great Fire and further reading
Sir Christopher Wren wanted to crown The Monument with a statue of King Charles II, but the King declined saying “I didn’t start the fire!” – I Never Knew That About London, Christopher Winn.