Thomas Farriner’s family was trapped upstairs in their house when the fire broke out, and they had to escape through a window into the house next door. Their maid was too scared to jump, and died in the fire.
People didn’t have large fire hoses in the 1660s – they would have carried water in leather buckets, squirted water through a big syringe (like a squirt gun), and pulled down burning buildings with long metal hooks.
There was a big argument about how to fight the Great Fire. The fire fighters wanted to tear down houses that might get burned so the fire wouldn’t spread so quickly, but the Lord Mayor of London disagreed. In the end, King Charles II had to ask for the houses to be pulled down, but by then the fire had already grown very big.
Because the fire destroyed so much, some people thought that someone meant to start it – not that it was an accident in a bakery.
It is recorded that only six people died in the fire, but this may not be true – sometimes when poor people died their deaths weren’t recorded.
The houses that were rebuilt were made from bricks instead of wood, which doesn’t burn. The new streets were also designed to be wider, and sewers were installed so the city was more sanitary.
When the houses and shops that had been destroyed in the fire were being rebuilt, people thought it would also be a good idea to build a monument to remember the Great Fire of London. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and took six years to build – it is 61 metres high, which also the same distance between where it stands and site in Pudding Lane where the fire began. It has a bronze sculpture on the top to look like flames.
The first proper London Fire Brigade was created in 1866, which is 200 years after the Great Fire.
Names to know:
Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) – Christopher Wren was a famous architect who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral. He had some ideas for how London could be rebuilt after the Great Fire, but the plans were rejected. Instead, he designed a monument to the Great Fire near where it began on Pudding Lane.
Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) – Samuel Pepys is most famous for keeping a diary for most of the 1660s, so he wrote a lot about the Great Fire in 1666. He also played an important part in helping to fight the fire by warning King Charles II that more needed to be done on the day the fire broke out – so, the King himself and the Duke of York took charge.
King Charles II (1630-1685) – King Charles II ruled from 1660-1685, and was king during the Great Fire of London. He helped the fire fighters, gave rewards to people who tried to stop the fire, and helped people who were hungry and homeless after the fire was over.
James, Duke of York (1633-1701) – The Lord High Admiral of England. Along with King Charles II, James took charge of the fire fighting efforts and helped to end the Great Fire. James’ guards acted as policemen to keep people and shops safe during the fire.
John Evelyn (1620-1706) – John Evelyn warned King Charles II in 1661 that the way houses in London were built would mean that a fire would be a disaster. When the Great Fire happened in 1666, he wrote about it in his diary – he walked around the city on 7 September and wrote about how people who had lost their homes were camping in the fields, and that the ground and charred wood was still so hot that holes burned in his shoes.
Thomas Farriner (1616-1670) – Thomas Farriner was a baker and owned the shop were the first fire broke out on 2 September 1666 that eventually led to most of London burning down. He was a baker to King Charles II.
Happy birthday Monday Puzzle!
It is now exactly two years since the birth of this column, which I started as a consequence of a Singapore maths problem that went viral. To celebrate this anniversary the internet has kindly provided me with a new Singapore maths problem. The web has been aflutter this past week about the following teaser reportedly given to Singaporean first year pupils, that’s five to seven-year-olds, that is so difficult no one can solve.
The real story here is how “maths problem stumps the internet” has become such boringly predictable clickbait these days. Because the briefest look at the question - which first appeared on a Singapore tech forum with the caption “can you solve this Pri 1 bonus question” - reveals it is obviously fake. The photo looks doctored, and the problem has no proper instructions.
It appears that the problem was lifted - and altered - from a maths puzzle website run by Gordon Burgin, a retired American teacher in Norwich. In Burgin’s problem the bottom left quadrant has a 20. In the Singapore version the 0 is rubbed out. No wonder there is no obvious solution!
“I am a little bemused by the hoax as I’m not sure what they intended to get out of it,” says Burgin. “If discussion and frustration was the intention I guess they succeeded!”
The correct version of the puzzle is presented here, and is the first of today’s three puzzles.
In each of the four sectors of the outer circle, there is a two-digit number which is equal to the sum of the three numbers at the corners of its sector. The numbers in the individual circles can only be 1 to 9 and each number can be used only once. One number has been provided to get you started. Find the remaining four numbers
The next problem is to turn the Singapore version (that’s the one with the 0 rubbed out) into a meaningful question. Can you think of a convincing question that would use this image, and if so what is the solution? I’ll give a copy of my puzzle book Can You Solve My Problems? to the answer I like the best. Tweet me your answers at @alexbellos or email me.
When I saw Singapore/Burgin puzzle I was reminded of a problem in one of the most interesting books in the history of puzzles: the Wakoku Chie-Kurabe, Japan’s oldest puzzle book, published in 1727. It is a lovely puzzle - and at least this one is authentically from the Far East!
Write the numbers from 1 to 9 in the black circles such that the sum of the numbers around each blue circle (and including the centre circle) and along both horizontal and vertical lines is the same.
That’s four sums, each the addition of five digits, and each of the sums adds to the same amount. Here’s an image from the Wakoku Chie-Kurabe that illustrates a similar problem. If you can’t solve the puzzle - some captions for the picture please!
I’ll be back later today with the solutions.
UPDATE: Solutions now posted here.
I set a puzzle here every two weeks on a Monday. Send me your email if you want me to alert you each time I post a new one.
I’m always on the look-out for great puzzles. If you would like to suggest one, email me.
My latest book is Visions of Numberland: A Colouring Journey Through the Mysteries of Maths.
Thanks to Gordon Burgin. You can buy his puzzle book here.