See London before the Fire

17th Century London. No artist named. (

17th Century London. No artist named. (

Six students (of history? architecture? illustration?) have produced a 3½-minute video imagining what London before the Great Fire of 1666 must have been like. The animation is lifelike but the buildings are figments of their historical imaginations, variations of the half-timber affairs that bring Shakespeare’s London to mind. In this fabrication the viewer flies through the streets, up and down Pudding Lane and other parts of the town just as dawn breaks upon the ancient metropolis. notes:

Although most of the buildings are conjectural, the students used a realistic street pattern [taken from historical maps] and even included the hanging signs of genuine inns and businesses, mentioned in diaries from the period.

The students, from De Montfort University, are Chelsea Lindsay, Dan Peacock, Luc Fontenoy, Joe Dempsey, Dan Hargreaves and Dominic Bell. They won first prize in the Off the Map contest, sponsored in part by the computer game industry. They’ve done a marvelous job and you really do feel as if you are flying through actual history. I think at one point you may even see the beginning of the fire. The website linked to above also links to animated depictions or models of ancient Rome, Washington, D.C., circa 1814 and other historical cuisine. The Washington project is not far along into production – one hopes to visit the site again in a year – but the Rome product is a final work and fascinating, though not detailed with the quite same graphic lushness as this flight through London, circa 1666.


About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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