Fire! Plague! Revolution! London 1666: capital of calamities

Fire of London Dutch School c1666 Society of Antiquaries

Explore the history of London’s most terrible decade through the eyes of a doctor!

In a nation where the reverberations of a bloody civil war could still be felt, it was the darkest of years for its greatest city. Divided across lines of class and religion, still feeling the after effects of The Great Plague, The Great Fire came and seemed unstoppable, engulfing everything before it in flames for days on end.

To fetch out the flames

Though the conflagration claimed the Royal College of Physicians’ home in the shadow of the fallen St Paul’s, the remains of its archives and the records of its reconstruction tell a story of how these apparently disparate events: civil war, disease and fire are, in fact, closely related.

Discover the range of ‘cures’ that medical professionals used throughout the 17th century to  treat war wounds, plague fevers and first degree burns. Then learn that, as soon as the fires were quelled, the physicians and others started the process of rebuilding and healing their city.

Venturing into an area that was then outside the city proper we unearth how the civil war weakened London, leaving it susceptible to disease and fiery destruction. We visit the location of the ‘human shield’ that Cromwell threw around the capital to prevent invasion by Royalist forces and learn how it became a temporary home for those seeking shelter from first the curse of contagion and then the annihilation of flames.

Great Fire of London Map

Finally we uncover the untold story of how these refugees from fire, plague and revolution made a new city in the West End. An Enlightenment phoenix rising from the ashes.

This tour reveals London as a ‘capital of calamities’ born of the scourges and disasters of the 17th century to golden age in the glittering, but brutal, 18th century and how catastrophe continues to shape the city right up to the present day.

To arrange a private group tour at any time contact us by email at 

For public tour dates (when available) click here to visit the Our Calendar page.

The walk commences in the medicinal garden of Royal College of Physicians and lasts between 2½ and 3 hours*.

The tour costs £12.50-£15** per person.


* Tours do not include a visit to the interior of the Royal College of Physicians.

** This walk includes the option of an escorted visit to the National Gallery for £2.50 extra per person. Please ask about a museum visit when making your booking. Private tours are subject to a minimum group fee for parties of 14 persons or fewer.

“Fire! Plague! Revolution!” is available as a private tour at any time by prior arrangement. 

For further details or to make a group booking for a private tour please contact us at 

Click here for a map and directions to the Royal College of Physicians.