The Great Plague
During the winter of 1664, a bright comet was seen in the sky and was regarded as a bad omen. It wasn’t long until it was realised and in December 1664 a suspicious death was recorded although not, at the time, considered a plague death so no control measures were taken.
London at this time was a walled city of about 448 acres, it was overcrowded, dirty and awash with sewage, ideal conditions for the plague to spread.
The Great Plague was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in England, lasting from 1665 to 1666. It killed an estimated 100,000 people, almost a quarter of London’s population.
Although this epidemic was on a far smaller scale than the earlier Black Death pandemic, it was remembered afterwards as the ‘Great’ plague mainly because it was the last widespread outbreak of bubonic plague in England during the 400-year timespan of the Second Pandemic.
350 years later and with the help of the Historic UK website, today’s walk followed the streets of London finding the locations of the plague pits, which were scattered across the city and surrounding countryside. As there is little evidence about the exact locations they have used a variety of sources to help pinpoint where they would have been. There is a useful map and information on the website if you are looking to plan your own walk.
Distance: around 19.5 miles (not including public transport).