There are a number of factors that came into play and that worked together to turn a small, simple fire into the greatest conflagration in the history of England. Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist of Stuart England, experienced the Great Fire first-hand, and was instrumental in the successful efforts to halt the inferno. Pepyss diary entry of September 2, 1666, states that one of the household maid-servants, on her arrival at the Pepys household that morning, told of a great fire that was at that moment raging in the city. The entry further relates what Pepys himself found when he went personally to investigate the situation in his duty as Clerk to the Royal Navy. Much of what is known about the Great Fire comes from Pepyss own account and subsequent investigations undertaken after the event.
The fire itself was ignited in the premises of Thomas Farynor (or Farriner), the Kings Baker (perhaps an appropriate name for a baker or one who works with flour, taken from the old French word for flour, farine). It is believed that cinders or sparks were ejected from one of the bakers ovens earlier in the evening, at about 10:00pm, and started a small fire in the bakery. In the investigation Farynor swore that this fire had been extinguished. This may in fact have been the fire that Lord Mayor Bludworth was thinking of when he described the Great Fire as being so small that “a woman might piss it out”, perhaps unaware of the magnitude of the actual conflagration that had by then taken hold. In any event, the bakers home was an inferno by 1:00am, and the Great Fire grew from there.
The fire spread from Farynors residence in Pudding Lane east towards the Tower of London, south towards the Barbican, west towards Temple Bar and north toward the Thames River and London Bridge. Pushed forward by strong easterly winds, it progressed