Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.
Samuel Pepys comes to London. Taking the earlier years of his diary as our guide, we will explore the tensions which gripped the capital during the final days of the Commonwealth. Pepys' preoccupations over money and professional advancement, and his enthusiastic pursuit of the pleasures London had to offer vividly evoke the life of the city.
The Great Plague of 1665. Unlike most of his wealthier neighbours and colleagues, Pepys remained in London throughout the epidemic. His objective account of life in the city during that summer and autumn challenges popular assumptions shaped by the melodramatic and fictionalised descriptions written in later years, notably that of Daniel Defoe.
The Great Fire of London. Pepys' day-by-day account of this cataclysm is arguably the most widely familiar section in his diaries. We will retrace his steps during those four terrible days as he struggled to balance his private and public interests. We will then consider the fire’s aftermath, the impacts on London society and the various proposals that were made for London's regeneration into a modern city.
Field trip to the Museum of London to view the 'War, Plague and Fire' gallery. There will follow a walking tour of sites connected with Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire, from the Fire Monument, along the river from the site of old London Bridge to St Olave’s, Hart Street, Pepys’ parish church.
The Court of Charles II. Pepys offers numerous insights into the world of this flamboyant yet deeply flawed monarch during the 1660s, as London struggled to reinvent itself following the Great Fire. The diaries provide a vivid picture of a court and capital city on the verge of profound transformations.
Destination: Museum of London; City of London
Excursion rating: Moderate - up to two hours’ walk on even ground or up to an hour’s walk on uneven/unpaved surface and/or steep/hilly ground including lots of stairs and steps in houses and gardens.