I was planning to blog about the Melplash show, and Charlie’s dahlias, this week – but that is going to have to wait a night or two. Tonight – an extraordinary display of a different kind!
We’d had Mum & Dad staying with us this weekend, and earlier today we took a walk down to the River to marvel at the spectacle of the huge, 120 metre long model that has been made to commemorate the Great Fire of London – 350 years ago today – and which was to be burned tonight.
I guess this is pretty much every architect’s dream. A huge city made out of balsa wood models.
Above a huddle of Elizabethan houses of Old London, rises the great church of St. Paul’s, with Blackfriars Bridge beyond…
And the Shard rising above… It was a thing of incredible beauty, and we all felt a bit distressed at its imminent destruction. Designed by the artist David Best, and produced by the amazing company, Artichoke, it had taken months to build.
At the end of a lovely two days, Mum and Dad went back home this afternoon; and Charlie (and Mavis) sadly had to go back to Dorset for the kittens’ next appointment at the vet very early tomorrow morning. So I was home alone. I wasn’t quite sure if I had the energy to head down to the river again, but I suddenly decided it would be interesting.
I wasn’t the only one with the idea. Massive crowds had gathered on the Embankment. There was a fantastic, happy atmosphere…
At 8.30, as the sky had gone completely dark, the first flicker of flames lit up the model.
The fire spread within minutes, revealing the delicate beauty of the construction… gasps from the crowd as each building began to burn. Soon the fire was really taking hold. The heat was intense, and great clouds of smoke and embers soared across the city.
It turned out I wasn’t the only one taking photos….
After some time, the great St. Paul’s began to catch alight, and was soon completely enveloped. Fire started to rage at the other end of the barge….
It was a completely brilliant, breathtaking sight – and smell, and sound… the horrific crackling as the wood burned was as intense as the flames. Just for a second or two, I believe we were all transported to September, 1666.
The glass windows of the OXO tower reflected the great fire… watched by many diners. I was glad, though, that I was in the crowds on the banks of the river. More real! We watched, and cheered, and stood amazed in appreciation, until at last only three remaining houses stood on the barge, burning fiercely…
And then they too were gone.
The fireboats came in and slowly doused the burning ruins.
Perhaps the most mesmeric 45 minutes I have ever witnessed: an incredible, fantastic, majestic, poignant way to remember the huge destruction of the great City of London three hundred and fifty years ago. Charlie watched the live stream on the internet, and we chatted on the phone… almost as good as if you had been here.
A brilliant, brilliant night – and never could there be a truer example of what this blog is really meant to be all about: Inspiration.