HISTORY MYSTERY: Why did the Great Fire of London Spread so far and so fast?

This lesson asks the big question ‘why did the Great Fire of London Spread so far and so fast in 1666?’. Your students have to evaluate the evidence available to decide what they think was the biggest contributing factor. Students have to infer and reach a reasoned judgement based on the evidence at hand. This includes primary sources and secondary reports.

The class works in pairs or groups to decide why the Great Fire of London was able to spread so far in such a short space of time. They assess the evidence to decide whether the main reason was:
-Human mistakes,
-Weather conditions
-Firefighting equipment.

The evidence is not given to them all at once, instead the teacher drip feeds it throughout the lesson. This is in a bid to challenge preconceived ideas and see if pupils will change their minds when faced with new data or sources.

The lesson also works well as a station activity with the children moving around the room to gather information.

The last task is to write an extended piece (like a DBQ) explaining what the different factors were and what they believe was the biggest contributing factor to the fire spreading in this way.

The lesson fits with the common core requirement for students to analyse, evaluate and consider causation. It is designed for the UK National Curriculum and I have kept in the level descriptors as these may help you with grading your students as they are skill descriptors: ie: identify, then describe then explain then evaluate at the top end of ability. But if not they can be easily deleted from the slides.

The zip file contains:

  • fully animated and annotated PowerPoint
  • Clues from the scene worksheet
  • Answer worksheet graphic organiser
  • Full lesson plan description

My classes have had great fun with this lesson. It can stand alone or be used a a project, for example on Stuart housing.

I hope you find this useful and enjoyable. If you do, please check out my other enquiry lessons like this on various topics and I even have a growing bundle of them in my store.

This download (free or purchased) is for your own personal use in your classroom or your home. Please do not share my resources with others unless given explicit consent by me. Please direct them to my store instead.

You may not share this download. You may not alter any item in this download, resell and claim as your own work. Similarly, you may not sell or share these resources with anyone and you may not use the contents of this download to create anything for commercial purposes or other commercial products. If you are an education board or school and would like to use my resources district wide, please contact me about licensing.

© A. Hughes (MsHughesTeaches), 2014 All right

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  • Clues-from-the-scene-and-answers-Great-Fire.pdf
  • The-Great-Fire-of-London.ppt
  • Great-Fire-of-London-lesson-plan.pdf

About this resource


Created: May 13, 2018

Updated: Mar 9, 2019


pdf, 445 KB



ppt, 8 MB


Lesson plan

pdf, 119 KB


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