London, 17th Century
|King James VI & I|
|King William III & Queen Mary|
My expertise is the 17th century, specifically the 1660’s, 1660-1669, I know, a very narrow view of then London. But in order to ‘know’ of my time, I must explore the years around this decade, generally from James VI & I to William of Orange. I delve into books that date from the 17th century to now, seeking new and interesting information that abounds from that time.
|Center aisle of St Paul's|
If I could, I’d leap into time machine and zoom back to that era, see the dirt encrusted cobblestones, the pissing conduit and the great conduit along Cheapside. I’d find the London stone and sit on it. I would ask a gentleman to take me into St Paul’s Church, a broken down place where the exterior walls bulged under the weight of the stone building. Less than savory folk camped along the main aisle. Cromwell’s soldiers had made the church into stables during the civil wars. The stink of people who had traversed within its walls over several centuries pervaded the columns.
|St. Paul's in ruin after 1666 fire|
London was loud and dirty. Coal smoke fogged the lanes during winter, and settled on all things, crusting surfaces with grit.
But people are people everywhere. They love and hate. They wonder at what the government is doing to them, how they will cope. Like today.
We haven’t changed over the centuries but I’d still love to travel back to London in the 17th century, watch from afar as St Paul’s Church burned during the 1666 great fire. According to my sources, with its decay and scaffolding, it took about an hour to burn. Only an hour. The lead roof melted, rained down the church’s sides like a fiery rain and streamed downhill toward the Thames.
Ah, London. Back in the day.
Many thanks to Wikicommons, Public Domain.