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Soc. of Antiquaries: A Plan of the City of London after the great Fire in the Year of our Lord 1666

Map: tempMid
Cartographer: Soc. of Antiquaries
Title: A Plan of the City of London after the great Fire in the Year of our Lord 1666
Date: 1748
Published: London
Width: 14 inches / 36 cm
Height: 19 inches / 49 cm
Map ref: LDN6305
Two maps showing conflicting plans for the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666. The upper plan is by John Evelyn, and the lower is by Christopher Wren.

Evelyn's plan shows in white the area that was lost to the fire. His plan focused on retaining 25 of the most historic and important churches in the City and building straight roads between them. This would regularize the layout of the City to a degree, while not completely erasing it's history and character.

Sir Christopher Wren's plan, on the other hand, was grand and elegant, but would have completely changed the structure of the City. The narrow alleys and ancient roads would have been replaced by grand avenues and circles similar to the design of modern-day Paris. Wren's proposed financial circle around the Bank of England is particularly interesting as it would have brought all of the great economic institutions (i.e. the Royal Mint, the Excise Office, and the Post Office) together in one location.

Thankfully for historians and lovers of winding alleyways, neither plan was put to use, due in large part to the stubbornness of London's landholders. The City's residents and businessmen began rebuilding on their original plots almost from the moment the fire burnt out. Despite publicly favouring Christopher Wren's plan, King Charles II was politically and financially unable to coerce the residents of London into following a civic plan. Eventually, the only compromises made were the widening of major thoroughfares and a prohibition on wooden structures within the City walls.

This document was published in 1748 (coincidentally the year another major fire broke out in the City of London) by the Society of Antiquaries to record the plans which had been submitted almost a century earlier.