The great fire of London walk

Both of my kids enjoyed learning about the great fire of London at school. We visited some of the places below when the kids were younger but as they were both eager to revisit the Monument I devised a themed ‘Great fire of London’ day.

Museum of London

We started with a visit to the Museum of London to see their Plague and Fire gallery. The best place to begin is by watching the 6 minute video which gives an overview of the fire and a day by day account from some of the eye witnesses. You might also like to pick up the War, Plague and Fire family activity sheet from reception (or download in advance from their website).

Afterwards take a walk around the gallery and see some of the objects relating to the fire. Our favourites were smoke blackened tiles unearthed in a cellar in Pudding Lane back in the 1970s. You can also try on a fire fighters leather helmet and compare it with our modern day equivalent.

St Paul’s cathedral

St Paul's cathedral
St Paul’s cathedral

After leaving the museum we walked to the Monument past St Paul’s cathedral. The previous cathedral, known as Old St Paul’s, was one of the casualties of the fire. Many people had put their belongings into the crypt, believing they’d be safe from the fire but sadly it was not to be and the cathedral burnt. The current cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and rebuilt after the fire once attempts to restore Old St Paul’s were stopped.

We’ve visited St Paul’s Cathedral before so didn’t go in this time but if you’ve never been it’s worth it for the climb up to the Golden Gallery. It’s not cheap but you can get slightly reduced prices by buying tickets online.

Monument to the Great Fire of London

Monument to the Great Fire of London
Monument to the Great Fire of London

On to the Monument, which was designed by Wren and his colleague Dr Hooke, as a memorial to the Great Fire. This stone column is 61.5 metres high which is the exact distance from its location to the start of the fire.  It’s fun to climb the 311 steps to the top and take in the view over London although you may need to queue for a while to get in.

View from the Monument
View from the Monument

The view had changed significantly since I last climbed the Monument as the new Walkie Talkie skyscraper now dominates the area! You can always pretend it’s not there and look out to the Thames and Tower Bridge instead. There is wire fencing all around the viewing area which can make it a little tricky to take photographs (hence no photo of the Walkie Talkie) but at least you’re safe.

Once you’ve squeezed back down the stairs you can pick up  a free certificate to show you’ve climbed the Monument.

Certificates from the Monument
Certificates from the Monument

Pudding Lane

Just down the road from the Monument is Pudding Lane, the source of the great fire. The only reminder nowadays is a small plaque on one of the buildings. The road itself is nothing special, I think a new bakery would be a great addition!

Pudding Lane
Pudding Lane

All Hallows by the Tower

All Hallows by the Tower is the oldest church in London. It’s location next to the Tower of London means that it received plenty of beheaded bodies from the executions.

It’s also the church where Samuel Pepys climbed the tower to view the progress of the great fire. The church survived thanks to surrounding buildings being demolished to create firebreaks. It didn’t fare so well in the second world war though and in the crypt you can see lead which melted from the roof during the bombings. In the under croft you can also find an excavated Roman pavement, dating from the second century.

We finished our tour with a quick trip to Borough Market. This has a tenuous link of existing at the same time as the great fire, but we only really visited for its yummy food!

More info:

  • The Museum of London is free although a donation is appreciated. The museum is open daily from 10am-6pm. It’s a short walk from either Barbican or St Paul’s underground stations.
  • The Monument costs £4 for adults, £2 for children. The stairs are the only way to get up and the staircase is pretty narrow, as is the viewing platform. It can be a bit of a squeeze when trying to pass people. I wouldn’t personally recommend it if you have pre-school children but we did see a few being carried up.
  • All Hallows by the Tower is free to enter. It’s open 7 days a week except during services. The nearest tube station is Tower Hill.

64 thoughts on “The great fire of London walk”

  1. Wow looks like a great day – I had no idea you could go up to the top of the monument – what a view! I love history and look forward to having lost of historical fun and day trips like this when the kiddies are older! Great post 🙂 xx #letkidsbekids

    1. So,glad i found this post, my daughter is currently learning about tgfol, we have booked a day out in London and definitely going to follow these recommendations. Could you please tell me how far away from each other the things are, are they walkable etc.
      Any other info would be grateful. Thanks

      1. Hi Anthony, hope you enjoy your day out! The great fire affected a relatively small area of London so yes, it’s all walkable.

    1. I’d been past it a few times as well Sara and didn’t realise its significance at the time. So I’ve learnt new things from the kids 🙂

  2. What a fabulous post. I must admit to not knowing about the Monument but now that I do it will definitely be on our ‘to do ‘ list. I am a big advocate of hands on learning as I find that my own children learn best when they are able to use their senses to find out about a topic. We use a time machine to learn about history for example.

    Thank you so much for linking up to the #BigKid list and I do hope to find out more about your inspirational ideas on the next one:)

    1. It wasn’t too bad going up but I did get cramp in my leg coming back down (as I always do on winding staircases).

  3. This is a fab post and totally relevant to us as Grace is learning about this too! I wonder if they think adding a bakery to Pudding Lane is bad luck?! Thank you for linking to PoCoLo, I think we will have to take a climb of the monument next time we are there 🙂 x

    1. Thanks Grace. It is high and you need to be quite fit to walk up all the stairs but there’s a great view from the top!

    1. I must admit Eleanor that until my eldest studied the great fire I didn’t know either! (Well, I’m sure I did as a kid, but had probably forgotten).

  4. My year 2 son has the plague and fire as his topic this half term and I’m planning to take him into London this weekend and have been looking for ideas. This article has been very inspirational. Thank you.

  5. What a great tour – I shall definitely be doing this when my daughter is a bit older (don’t think she’d love walking up all those steps at The Monument). I love learning more about the history of London. It’s shocking how much the Great Fire destroyed in London. Thank you so much for linking up to #citytripping

    1. Thank you. I’m rather ashamed sometimes at how little history I remember from my school days so it’s as much fun for me to visit places like this as I always learn something new.

  6. I love this idea for a day out – shall have to remember it for a few years’ time when my daughter is old enough to appreciate it. I love the Monument but haven’t been up for absolutely ages. Thanks for linking up to #citytripping too

    1. I think most children learn about the Great Fire in year 2 so that’s an ideal age to visit. I remember my son’s school making London out of cardboard boxes in the playground and then setting fire to them as if it were the great fire (all H&S controlled of course!)

  7. I love the idea of doing a themed walk for your kids! I live in London so was really nice reading about all these places and there were a few things I learned as well here 🙂 when my daughter gets older ill do us some sort of a themed walk too, love how educational that could be 🙂 #citytripping

  8. We loved the Monument when we went – it’s good value isn’t it, and the views are worth it too. I work opposite Borough Market, so can quite see why you ended up there! Love this idea of a themed trip.

    1. Yes, one of the cheapest views in London (although getting a little overshadowed now). I first went up about 7 years or so ago and it’s amazing how London’s skyline has become much more high rise in a relatively short timescale.

  9. Oh splendid! You have totally just planned a future day out in London for me! My son ‘did’ the Great fire at school, but for some reason we never bothered to wander around the sights. I doubt I’d have found all Hallows, though, and that would have been a shame. Cool!

    1. It’s good to bring history alive. Although sometimes hard to imagine how it would have been given the surrounding of the Monument/Pudding Lane nowadays.

    1. Hi Gage, I’d allow 20-30 minutes for the actual visit but you might also need to queue to get in if you visit on a busy day (school holidays).

  10. What a fab post, you’ve totally inspired me – my eldest starts year 2 in September & will be learning about the Fire of London so we’re heading into London tomorrow to see the sights you mention!

  11. Hi – found your post as was searching for Great Fire of London activities – my son’s next half term theme is GFoL. I’ve since booked our train tickets to London for a day trip in Nov following your route. I think I’m more excited than my boys! Xx

  12. This was so helpful. We did your trail today as my daughter is obsessed with the fire, Samuel Pepys etc. They both loved it! Thank you. Great post x

  13. Fab post
    Travelling from the north west this week to spend a day with my two girls learning
    Tgfol is high on our tour list
    Thank you

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