The 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London will be commemorated by an issue of six stamps on September 2.

The fire broke out in bakery of Thomas Farriner in Pudding Lane in the early hours of Sunday September 2, 1666. For three days it spread through the city, helped by the close-packed wooden houses, thatched roofs, stored materials such as pitch and tar, and a strong westerly wind.

By September 5, four-fifths of the old city (the area enclosed by the city walls) was burnt down. More than 13,000 houses and shops were destroyed, along with no fewer than 87 churches and the medieval St Paul’s Cathedral. Only a small number of people are thought to have been killed, but as many as 70,000 may have been left homeless.

Out of the ashes of the medieval city arose a new London, rebuilt (with essentially the same streetplan) and modernised by the architect Christopher Wren.

The stamps, designed by The Chase, depict key scenes in graphic-novel style, with captions providing a chronological commentary of the disaster. Printed in litho by International Security Printers, they come in se-tenant pairs.

1st class SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2

Fire breaks out in bakery on Pudding Lane. Thomas Farriner and his daughter escape through a window.

1st class SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2

The fire spreads rapidly. Many people flee to the river with their possessions.

£1.05 MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3

Houses are pulled down to create breaks and prevent the fire from spreading.

£1.05 TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4

As the fire reaches St Paul’s, citizens witness the cathedral’s destruction. Belongings stored inside fuel the flames.

£1.52 WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

The fire dies out and many gather at Moorfields. Temporary food markets are set up across London.

£1.52 TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

Christopher Wren develops plans for the regeneration of the city and presents them to the King.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack, also presented in graphic-novel style, focuses on key events during the blaze and on the future regeneration of London.

Besides the usual stamp cards and first day cover, there is a limited-edition coin cover which bears the Royal Mint’s special £2 commemorative coin.

 

PRICES

Set of 6 stamps   £6.42

Presentation pack   £6.95

Stamp cards   £2.70

First day cover   £8.12

Coin cover   £17.50

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   4/5

A London-centric issue can be excused in this case, because this was a catastrophic but cathartic event

QUALITY OF DESIGN   4/5

This is an imaginative approach to illustrating the fire, at the risk of downplaying its seriousness

WOW FACTOR   3/5

Vibrancy and colour should get this set noticed, but are the stamps successful when viewed individually?