10 disease-related memorials in London…7. The Great Plague of 1665…

July 29, 2020

It is estimated to have killed as many as 100,000 Londoners yet, presumably at least partly due to there fact it was overshadowed by the Great Fire of the following year, there are no grand memorials to the victims of the Great Plague of 1665 in London.

It does, however, get a brief mention on the board outside the church of St Olave Hart Street on the corner of Hart Street and Seething Lane. Recording a few facts about the church’s history from the burial register, it lists “1665 (The Great Plague) 365 names”. (It also lists Mother Goose as buried here in 1586 – but that’s for another time).

Victims of the plague were buried at numerous sites around London – including in the churchyard of St Giles-in-the-Fields and, as recently uncovered during construction of the Crossrail project, in the Bedlam burial ground (there’s a great interactive map of London’s reputed plague pit locations on Historic UK).

Yet, despite this, there remains a dearth of public memorials commemorating those who died.

PICTURE: The Seething Lane entrance of St Olave Hart Street with the blue board  and its mention of the Great Plague of 1665 (Dirk Ingo Franke (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0))

2 Responses to “10 disease-related memorials in London…7. The Great Plague of 1665…”

  1. artandarchitecturemainly Says:

    The Great Plague of 1665 was critically important, both for the dying and the surviving citizens of the time, and because of it being a model for later pandemics eg the Spanish Flu, Ebola, Coronavirus etc etc. So a brief mention on the board outside a church is not much of a memorial.

    This is an important issue for us all, so thanks for the link.
    Hels
    Art and Architecture, mainly
    https://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com/2020/07/memorialising-pandemic-venice-and.html


  2. I agree it is very odd, particularly given the low number (at least officially) of deaths in the Fire. It think there is something about plagues more generally that people just don’t like to think of them or talk of them …. or remember them.

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