Thought our fear of terrorism began with Isis and Al-Qaeda? Well check out this amazing account of the Great Fire of London

Great Fire of London anniversary: 'Everyone was convinced it was a terrorist attack', says author Adrian Tinniswood

This sculpture of a 17th Century street will be set alight

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Terrorism has never held a more prominent place in the world. The litany of atrocities since 9/11 have pushed us to a state of constant alert, which often spills over into panic and false alarms.

Yet terrorism itself is nothing new. In fact it was sparking fear into Londoners as far back as 1666.

When the Great Fire of London broke out on September 2 1666, the people of the English capital believed it was a terror attack. And the culprits? The Dutch.

That's according to historian Adrian Tinniswood, who has written a book about the horrific inferno of 350 years ago.

"Everyone was convinced it was a terrorist attack, we were at war with the Dutch," Tinniswood told the two Mikes on talkRADIO. "It couldn't possibly be an accident.

"The old medieval St Paul's went, everybody thought that couldn't possibly go. Everybody thought 'this can't be an ordinary fire.'

"But of course it was an accident. This wind blew up embers from the fire in Pudding Lane all over London."

Tomorrow marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, and this weekend flames will be projected on to St Paul's Cathedral, as well as a bonfire and a fire garden outside the Tate Modern. On Sunday night a 120 foot sculpture of a street of 17th-century wooden houses will be set alright, all as part of the London’s Burning festival by arts charity Artichoke.


Listen to the full interview to find out more. Tinniswood's newest book The Long Weekend is out now