Saturday, October 26, 2013

London as the Dyers saw it (video)


© 2013 Christy K Robinson

Using maps and drawings from the British Library, a team of DeMontfort University students created a three-dimensional animation of what London was like during William and Mary Dyer’s lifetime, in the mid-1600s. (Except that the designers didn't put in enough filth, dead animals, and rubbish to make it more realistic.) The model focuses on the area around Pudding Mill Lane and the bakery of Thomas Farriner, where the Great Fire of 1666 started. This was in the old walled city.

The footprint of London's Great Fire of 1666.
The video shows the area around Pudding Lane,
near London Bridge.

They show streets, alleys, markets, a blacksmith forge, carcasses hanging from eaves at a butcher shop, the riverside warehouses, pub signs, and rooftops. A pall of coal smoke hangs over the city. The buildings are crowded so close that the sun never reaches the cobblestones in some places.  

There were outbreaks of plague every few years, including 1615, 1625, 1630, 1635… The epidemics seemed to hit harder at five-year intervals, but they never really went away. A mortality table from 1632 shows that there were eight deaths from plague, but the worst were in 1635, the year the Dyers sailed to America, and of course in 1665, the year before the Great Fire. In 1635, about 30,000 Londoners died of plague, but in 1665, about 100,000 died. After the Great Fire, the huge epidemics did not recur.

Mary Barrett may have been born in the London area in 1610-11, and she was certainly a resident before she married in 1633. William Dyer, though born in Kirkby LaThorpe, Lincolnshire, apprenticed in London for nine years in the 1620s and 30s. He and Mary were living in the borough of Westminster and were members of the St. Martin-in-the-Fields parish before they emigrated to Massachusetts.

Both William and Mary visited London again in the 1650s: William twice, on Rhode Island charter business, and obtaining his commission as commander in chief upon the seas in the First Anglo Dutch War; and Mary for almost five years until about January 1657.

Of course, Mary had been executed in Boston in 1660, and William was living in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1666. The flames of the Great Fire didn’t quite reach Westminster, where they had lived, though the area was threatened because of the heavy gale and resulting fire tornados.

Their second-eldest son, William Dyer the Younger, did visit England several times on business, and lived there for a year while his treason case was decided in courts (he was acquitted). The younger William is mentioned in the diary of Samuel Pepys.



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Christy K Robinson is the author of two biographical novels (paperback and Kindle) on William and Mary Dyer, and a nonfiction anthology of her research into their culture: Mary Dyer Illuminated, Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This, and The Dyers of London, Boston, and Newport.  

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done but I do wish more of the filth that was part of their everyday life was included.

    ReplyDelete

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