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Up to Date News from the Past

Sir William Petty has received some lovely letters from children he met during a recent visit to a Doncaster school. Here is a colourful one from Aimee:


You can see from the artistic talent displayed above why Aimee was given the important job of designing a new St Paul’s cathedral. As Sir William would say, she has the ‘steady hand of a limnist’.

Here is one from Alicia, who obviously refused to be made miserable by an demonstration which showed how the fire spread so easily through the streets of London, instead happily laughing as the houses were consumed …


In contrast, the letter from Poppy tells how she enjoyed putting the fire out (actually a boy called David who, as you can see from Poppy’s illustration, was bravely playing the part of a burning house) …


Poppy has drawn a very fine portrait of Sir William on her letter, with his green coat, periwig and lace-lined neck-cloth.

At another school I visited very recently, the children were so involved in the story, and so keen to draw, that during their ‘indoors playtime’ (and we’ve had a few of those in Yorkshire lately) they also wanted to draw. When Sir William returned from the teacher’s little coffee house he was handed several unprompted drawings and messages the children had fashioned up on their own initiative. 

Here the story of the Great Fire is explained very succinctly indeed by a Key Stage One child …

We had already learned about the sparks (shown very clearly in this drawing) carrying the fire across the city, but were only really at the start of the story when the child drew this.

Sometimes I like to work out which particular part of the story these illustrations (which I receive often) show. For example, the following clearly shows the fire just as it started, with a worried looking gentleman pointing it out to others …

Whereas in the drawing below the fire has definitely spread to Thomas Farriner’s neighbour’s house. The gentleman shown here is so distraught his wig has fallen off, and if the redness of his face is anything to go by, the heat of the fire has certainly  ‘cooked his noddle’!

So, just a few of the letters and works of art Sir William has received. I hope you enjoyed them as much as me.

Click on the following link to find out more about Sir William Petty and the Great Fire of London.

Next time, some portraits of Captain Eynos the Elizabethan Sea Rover, sketched by older children.

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