350th Anniversary of the Great Fire

MonumentA commemoration of those who lost their lives, and of the destruction wrought on the historic City of London, including the destruction of eighty-nine churches

also

A thanksgiving for the rebuilding of the City of London and its Churches

“London rises again,
whether with greater speed
or greater magnificence is doubtful,
three short years complete that
which was considered the work of an age.”

Foreword

A Forward by Rt. Rev’d & Rt. Hon. Dr. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London

London was a crowded, claustrophobic, noisy city in 1666, just recovering from yet another visitation of the plague which had killed tens of thousands. Life expectancy in European Cities was lower than in the countryside and in unsanitary and overcrowded old London, plague was a frequent occurrence.

From the page of Pepys’ diary, we know that the streets of London were seething with wild prophets of doom. People remembered that Mother Shipton, who lived in Fleet Street, had prophesied that London in ’66 should be burnt to ashes and everyone knew from the Book of Revelation that the number of the Beast was 666. This led to much soul-searching and rather less edifying scapegoating immediately after the conflagration.

Mercifully there were remarkably few fatalities but the Fire certainly did mark the end of the London of Shakespeare, still dominated by the monuments of a great ecclesiastical city. Although Wren and his collaborators restored 51 of the parish churches, many of which are happily still with us, out of the ashes of the fire rose the great commercial city that London still is in its principle landmarks.

After the fire, the young man Christopher Wren was looking through the wreckage of the cathedral and found a fragment of a tombstone inscribed Resurgam – I will rise again. You can see the Latin word today over the South Door under a carved Phoenix. The mythical bird which rises from the ashes of its own nest to new life. Here is not only a symbol for our great world city rising again from fire and war but also a symbol of the way in which the Holy Spirit continually renews the Church of Jesus Christ, it’s crucified and risen Lord to serve the world.

Welcome

Welcome to this special service commemorating the Great Fire of London. We begin in the Wren Church of St Mary-at-Hill, in whose parish the fire began. We will process to the church of St Magnus the Martyr Stopping on the way at the site of Farriner’s Bakery and the great Monument itself.

During the procession, please keep as much as possible to pavements, following the direction of the stewards. The streets are likely to be very busy with workers on their lunch breaks.

Please do join in heartily with hymns as we bear witness to the church’s historic and continuing presence in the City of London.

Order of Procession

Processional Cross, followed by Choir, followed by Clergy, followed by the Congregation

St Mary-at-Hill Church

Service Banner

Introduction

The Rev’d Oliver Ross, Area Dean to the City of London

Opening Prayer

The Rev’d Preb. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Priest in Charge, St. Mary-At-Hill

Hymn

  1. Dear Lord and Father of mankind.
    forgive our foolish ways;
    reclothe us in our rightful mind,
    in purer lives thy service find,
    in deeper reverence, praise
  2. In simple trust like theirs who heard
    beside the Syrian sea
    the gracious calling of the Lord,
    let us, like them, without a word
    rise up and follow thee.
  3. O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
    O calm of hills above
    where Jesus knelt to share with thee
    the silence of eternity,
    interpreted by love!
  1. Drop thy still dews of quietness.
    till all our strivings cease;
    take from our souls the strain and stress,
    and let our ordered lives confess
    the beauty of thy peace.
  2. Breathe through the heats of our desire
    thy coolness and thy balm;
    let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
    speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
    O still, small voice of calm!

Text: John Greenleqf Whittier (1807-1892)
Music: Arr. from the oratorio Judith by C. H. H. Parry (1848-1918)

Reading

Mr Laurence Target, Churchwarden & Parish Clerk, St Mary-at-Hill

Sunday 2 September 1666

Some of our mayds sitting up late last night to get things ready against our feast to-day. Jane called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose and slipped on my nightgowne, and went to her window and thought it to be on the backside of Marke-lane at the farthest; but being unused to such tires as followed. I thought it far enough off; and so went to bed again and to sleep. About seven rose again to dress myself, and there looked out at the window and saw the re not so much as it was and further off

So to my closett to set things to rights alter yesterdays cleaning. By and by Jane comes and tells me that she hears that above 500 houses have been burned down to-night by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down all Fish-street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places, Sir J. Robinson’s little son going up with me; and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge; which, among other people, did trouble me for poor little Michell and our Sarah on the bridge.

From the Diary of Samuel Pepys

Anthem

SMaH ChoirThe Choir of St Mary-at-Hill
Director — Robert Mingay Smith

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts,
shut not thy merciful ears unto our pray’rs;
but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty.

O holy and most merciful Saviour,
thou most worthy judge eternal,
suffer us not, at our last hour,
for any pains of death, to fall from thee. Amen.

Text: Funeral Sentence: from the Book of Common Prayer
Music: Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

PROCESSION

Please follow the stewards’ directions. The procession will leave the church, turning right up Lovat Lane, left onto Eastcheap, and left down Pudding Lane.

Procession to the Monument

Site or Farriner’s Bakers

Prayer

The Rev’d Oliver Ross, Area Dean to the City of London

Reading

Philip Manning, Church Warden, St Katharine Cee

Sunday 2 September 1666 (continued)

So down, with my heart full of trouble, to the Lieutenant of the Tower who tells me that it begun this morning in the King’s baker’s house in Pudding-lane, and that it hath burned St. Magnus’s Church and most part of Fish-street already. So I down to the water-side and there got a boat and through bridge, and there saw a lamentable fire. Poor Michell’s house, as far as the Old Swan already burned that way, and the fire running further, that in a very little time it got as far as the Steeleyard, while I was there. Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods and flinging into the river or bringing them into lighters that layoff; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them and then running into boats or clambering from one pair of stairs by the water-side to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loth to leave their houses’ but hovered about the windows and balconys till they were, some of them burned, their wings, and fell down. Having staid. and in an hour’s time seen the fire: rage every way, and nobody, to my sight, endeavouring to quench it, but to remove their goods, and leave all to the fire, and having seen it get as far as the Steele-yard, and the wind mighty high and driving it into the City; and every thing, after so long a drought, proving combustible, even the very stones of the Churches, and among other things the poor steeple by which pretty Mrs. A lives, and whereof my old school-fellow Elborough is parson, taken fire in the very top, and there burned till it fell down.

From the Diary of Samuel Pepys

Reading

The Rev’d Preb Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Priest in charge, St Mary-at-Hill

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not. for I have redeemed you:
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers. they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not he burned.
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God.
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43:1-3

Hymn

  1. Our God, our help in ages past,
    our hope for years to come,
    our shelter From the stormy blast,
    and our eternal home:
  2. Under the shadow of your throne
    your saints have dwelt secure;
    sufficient is your arm alone,
    and our defense is sure.
  3. Before the hills in order stood
    or earth received its frame,
    from everlasting you are God,
    to endless years the same.
  1. A thousand ages in your sight
    are like an evening gone,
    short as the watch that ends the night
    before the rising sun.
  2. Our God, our help in ages past,
    our hope for years to come,
    still be our guard while troubles last,
    and our eternal home!

Text: Adapted from Psalm 90 by Issac Watts (1674-1748)
Music: Att. William Croft (1678-1727)

Procession

Please follow the stewards’ directions. The procession continues down Pudding Lane, turning right into Monument Street and arriving at the Monument itself.

Monument to the Great Fire of London

Prayer

The Rev’d Oliver Ross, Area Dean to the City of London

Reading

In the year of Christ 1666, on the 2nd September, at a distance eastward from this place of 202 feet, which is the height of this column, a fire broke out in the dead of night, which, the wind blowing, devoured even distant buildings, and rushed devastating through every quarter with astonishing swiftness and noise. It consumed 89 churches, gates, the Guildhall, public edifices, hospitals, schools, libraries, a great number of blocks of buildings, 13,200 houses, 400 streets. Of the 26 wards, it utterly destroyed 15, and left 8 mutilated and half-burnt. The ashes of the City, covering as many as 436 acres, extended on one side from the Tower along t e bank of the Thames to the church of the Templars, on the other side from the north-east gate along the walls to the head of Fleet- ditch. Merciless to the wealth and estates of the citizens, it was harmless to their lives, so as throughout to remind us of the final destruction of the world by fire. The havoc was swift. A little space of time saw the same city most prosperous and no longer in being. On the third day, when it had now altogether vanquished all human counsel and resource, at the bidding, as we may well believe, of heaven, the fatal fire stayed its course and everywhere died out.

Translation of the Latin inscription on the North face of the Monument

Photo Number 1666

Reading

The Very Rev’d Dr. David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

And he that sat upon the throne said. Behold. I make all things new.

And he said unto me. Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Revelation 21:1-5

Hymn

  1. Now thank we all our God
    with heart and hands and voices,
    who wondrous things has done,
    in whom his world rejoices,
    who from our mothers’ arms
    has blessed us on our way
    with countless gifts of love,
    and still is ours today.
  2. O may this bounteous God
    through all our life be near us,
    with ever joyful hearts
    and blessed peace to cheer us,
    to keep us in his grace,
    and guide us when perplexed,
    and free us from all ills
    of this world in the next.
  1. All praise and thanks to God
    the Father now be given,
    the Son and Spirit blest,
    who reign in highest heaven
    the one eternal God,
    whom heaven and earth adore;
    For thus it was, is now,
    and shall be evermore.

Text: Martin Rinckart (1636); trans. Catherine Winkworth
Music: Melody in J. Crugers’ Praxis Pietatis Melica (1647)

Procession

Please follow the stewards’ directions. The procession continues down Fish Street Hill and crosses Lower Thames Street

Road Crossing Arriving at St Magnus the Martyr

St Magnus the Martyr Church

Welcome & Opening Prayer

The Rev’d Fr Philip Warner, Rector of St Magnus the Martyr

SMtM Service

Hymn

  1. All my hope on God is founded;
    he doth still my trust renew.
    Me through change and chance he guideth,
    Only good and only true.
    God unknown,
    he alone
    calls my heart to be his own.
  2. Human pride and earthly glory,
    sword and crown betray his trust;
    what with care and toil he buildeth,
    tower and temple, fall to dust.
    But God’s power,
    hour by hour,
    is my temple and my tower.
  3. God’s great goodness aye endureth,
    deep his wisdom, passing thought:
    splendour, light, and life attend him,
    beauty springeth out of naught.
    Evermore
    from his store
    new-born worlds rise and adore.
  1. Daily doth th’ Almighty giver
    bounteous gifts on us bestow;
    his desire our soul delighteth,
    pleasure leads us where we go.
    Love doth stand
    at his hand;
    Joy doth wait on his command.
  2. Still from earth to God eternal
    sacrifice of praise be done,
    high above all praises praising
    for the gift of Christ his Son.
    Christ doth call
    one and all:
    ye who follow shall not fall.

Text: Joachin Neander (1650-80); trans. Robert Bridges (1844-1930)
Music: Herbert Howells (1892-1983)

SMtM Stained Glass Window

Reading

The Rev’d Fr Barrie Newton

Charles the Second. son of Charles the Martyr. King of Great Britain. France and Ireland, defender of the Faith. a most gracious prince. commiserating the deplorable state of things, whist the ruins were vet smoking provided for the comfort of his citizens. and the ornament this city; remitted their taxes. and referred the petitions of the magistrates and inhabitants of London to the Parliament: who immediately passed an Act. that public works should be restored to a greater beauty, with public money, to be raised by an imposition (m. coals; that churches. and the cathedral of St. Paul’s should be rebuilt from their foundations, with all magnificence; that the bridges. gates. anti prisons should be new made, the sewers cleansed, the streets made straight and regular. such as were steep levelled and those too narrow made wider. markets and shambles removed to separate places. They also enacted, that every house should be built with party-walls. and all raised of an equal height in front, and that all house walls should be strengthened with stone or brick; and that no man should delay building beyond the space of seven years. Furthermore be procured an Act to settle beforehand the suits which should arise respecting boundaries, he also established an annual service of intercession. and caused this column to be erected as a perpetual memorial to posterity. Haste is seen everywhere, London rises again, whether with greater speed or greater magnificence is doubtful, three short years complete that which was considered the work of an age.

Translation of the Latin inscription on the South face of the Monument

Reading

The Rev’d Fr Philip Warner, Rector of St Magnus the Martyr

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord. if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask ofGod. God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her. Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

John 11:21-26

Intercessions

The Rev’d Philip Warner, Rector of St Magnus the Martyr

Hymn

  1. I All who love and serve this City,
    all who bear its daily Stress,
    all who cry for peace and justice,
    all who curse and all who bless:
  2. In your day of wealth and plenty,
    wearied work and restful play,
    call to mind the word of Jesus,
    “Take thy cross and walk my way.”
  1. For all days are days of favour,
    for the Lord redeems us still,
    drawing near a world that spurns him,
    offering peace from Calvary’s hill.
  2. Risen Lord, shall yet the City
    be the place of greed and fear?
    Come today, our hope of glory.
    Let us cry “The Lord is here!”

Text: Erik Routley (1966) edited OCM Ross & B Fowler
Music: ‘Blaenwern’ William Rowlands (1860-1937)

Blessing & Dismissal

The Rev’d Oliver Ross, Area Dean to the City of London

 

Pre-Fire Diorama
A Diorama of London before the Great Fire at St Magnus the Martyr Church

 

Monument Staircase
The staircase inside the Monument