The Twickenham Museum
Timeline : 1600 - 1700

The Plague in London & Twickenham
Deaths in Twickenham
1665

The Great Plague in London

Last plague in London

The Plague struck London for the last time in 1665. Although it is often called the “Great Plague”, there had been worse plagues in the past. Twickenham suffered with 24 deaths in 1665; this was a good deal less than the scourge of 1605. In fact 1665 saw the last major outbreak of the plague in England.

Brown rats replace black rats

Trevelyan argues that one consequence of the Great Fire of 1666 in London was to remove the overcrowded and often squalid old houses, to be replaced by brick buildings; and the replacement of straw flooring and cloth hangings with boarded floors and panelling. The black rats and their fleas found fewer places to hide. But more important still was the arrival of the modern brown rat, which displaced the plague bearing black rat.

Pest house and plague pits

Twickenham at one time had a Pest House for the plague victims at some distant point on the Common (west of Twickenham Green). It is sometimes claimed that communal plague burial pits were dug in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, but there is no written record of this in the church archives.

Further reading:

G.M.Trevelyan, Illustrated Social History, Vol.2, pages 145-7.
English Social History, Longmans Green, 1945

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