September 2, 1666. A fire breaks out in Thomas Farriner’s bakery in Pudding Lane, on the north end of London Bridge. It would burn for four days and destroy more than 13,000 homes, leaving 70,000 people who had been living within the city’s old Roman walls homeless. St Paul’s cathedral was perhaps the most famous architectural victim of the fire, which also destroyed 87 other parish churches. Rumours at the time pointed the finger at French or Dutch spies who were said to have started the fire in order to invade London. As a result many foreigners were attacked in the days during and following the blaze. One Frenchman, who confessed to starting the fire, was hanged although it later emerged that he had not even been in the city at the time. Official casualty figures were remarkably low considering the material damage and were recorded by several contemporary writers and observers in single figures, although records of London’s poorest residents were inadequate and it is thought many more people were incinerated by the flames.
Also on September 2: The United States Department of the Treasury is founded (1789); Vietnam declares its independence (1945); The first election of the Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration (1960); The United States of America recognise the independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (1991)
Born on September 2: Marie Josephine Louise of Savoy (1753), Horace Silver (1928), Jimmy Connors (1952), Keanu Reeves (1964), Salma Hayek (1966)