The inferno, which roared into life 350 years ago today, consumed 13,200 houses as well as 87 churches and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Damages topped £1billion and reports at the time described hundreds of thousands “of all ranks and stations” reduced to homelessness.
Britain was shocked, but now it seems we might have got off easy, with some predicting not just the fire – but also the end of the whole kingdom.
“The blood of the just in London shall be demanded, burned by flames in ’66”
Astrologer William Lilly, writing 22 years earlier, predicted a “mutation, or transmigration of kings, kingdomes, monarchies and commonwealths” by 1666.
His inspiration was a prediction unearthed in Somerset in 1548, which warned that 1666 would see the apocalyptic visions of the biblical book of Daniel come true.
“From sixty till the Beast be dead,” it concluded, “the Heavens warme with fiery red”.
And this lead Lilly to predict the shadow of the antichrist over Europe.
The stargazer wrote: “All the Kingdomes of Europe (but especially we in England) will be wholly busied in strong disputations concerning antichrist.”
According to the book, 1666: The Year of the Beast by David Brady, Lilly was later dragged in by Parliament and questioned about the causes of the fire.
100 years earlier in France, the famed seer Nostradamus had passed away, but not before penning one of his most famous predictions.
As if forecasting the great blaze, he wrote: “The blood of the just in London shall be demanded | Burned by flames in ’66.
“The ancient city will seek to be a safer place | Many of the same (suspected) sect will be killed.”
True to his prediction, authorities would seek to rebuild London in a way less vulnerable to future fires.
Paranoid Londoners had also lynched many Dutch and French immigrants – who were suspected of involvement in the blaze.
Besides the obvious Satanic overtones of 1666, there were a number of remarkable coincidences that year.
A total solar eclipse had blacked out the sun in January, and there were several lunar eclipses.
It was also the year of the first recorded use of the phrase “Speak of the Devil”.
Exactly 600 years earlier the Normans had invaded England, and the last Anglo-Saxon King Harold II was killed.