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February 2014 Meeting

The Great Fire of Warwick,

At the February meeting, members of the Bidford & District History Society enjoyed a fascinating talk by Dr. Gillian White on The Great Fire of Warwick, 1694.  

It was said the Great Fire was started by a spark from a torch being carried up the High Street. It quickly spread, due to the predominance at the time of narrow alleys of half-timbered houses with over-hanging eves. It crossed the High Street narrowly missing the Lord Leycester Hospital and eventually stopped in the Market Square, having changed direction with the wind several times. 450 buildings were destroyed and 250 families made homeless.

It was said the bells of the church melted and tumbled to the ground!

Immediately after the fire, financial assistance was mobilized by the Bishop and other local dignitaries. Furthermore, an Act of Parliament was passed, so the entire country donated to the rebuild of Warwick.  All of the new properties were required to be built within 2 years and many had to conform to strict architectural guidelines, with the aim of creating “a town suitable for a better sort of gentleman.” The end result was “a splendid town,” according to Daniel Defoe.  A huge variety of different traders in the town claimed for compensation, including the King's Harpist!

Programme 2013 -14
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