Urban Adventures

Rebuilding after the Great Fire - 1666

Wren's plan for the rebuilding of the City of London, following the Great Fire of 1666

Plan for rebuilding the City of London (St Paul's Cathedral is indicated in red), 1666
Designer: Sir Christopher Wren
© RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections  


The Great Fire of London in 1666 burnt for five days and destroyed much of the City of London and its timber buildings. A week after the fire's end, Sir Christopher Wren completed a plan for rebuilding London and submitted it to King Charles II.

A combination of Renaissance planning and large-scale French garden design, the plan's central streets connect public squares and landmarks, while a narrower street grid fills the residual space. Wren's design, inspired by the Gardens of Versailles, imagined a well-ordered London with vistas and wide, straight streets. His grand plan was not implemented largely because rebuilding was financed by private enterprise and the desire was to rebuild quickly. Without heavy government involvement to carve new roads across exisiting building plots and ancient routes, the possibility of organising building on such an enormous scale proved to be unfeasible. Much of the ancient layout of the City remained, but rebuilt in brick and stone.


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