This day in London’s History
1212: A great roaring bastard of a fire raged through Southwark and the City. This mostly forgotten tragedy destroyed virtually everything south of the river and a generous portion of the City proper. The brand new London Bridge was also crippled. John Stow noted that many people crossed the bridge to gawp at the fire raging in Southwark. When a southerly wind blew embers across the water, the northern section of the bridge was also enflamed, trapping many between two infernos. An estimated 3000 people died, making it the greatest single disaster in London’s history (if we’re not counting illness and enemy action).
1958: The UK’s first parking meters were unveiled in Mayfair. Rather appropriate given that this square is the joint-furthest property from Free Parking on the Monopoly Board.
London fact of the week
Did you know that vehicles with nine or more seats are exempt from the Congestion Charge? So strap a sofa to the roof-rack of your people carrier and you’re in business.
London person of the week
Father Malcolm Hunter, who has finally come down from the roof of St Michael's Church in Camden after spending 10 days very slightly closer to his god. The lofty vigil raised money towards church repairs and proved that English eccentricity is still very much alive.
One thing you must do in London this week
Witness the UK Human Beatbox Championship at Cargo on Wednesday.
One thing you must not do in London this week
Do not go to Sotheby’s on Thursday if you have a niggling cough. You might end up accidentally buying the first folio edition of Shakespeare's plays, which is expected to go under the hammer for several million pounds.