Our city’s faced its share of challenges, but the plague was one of the toughest. Bouts of the disease broke out across Britain every few years from the 1300s to the 1600s. So how did Londoners survive? You’ve been Googling it, so we put this question to Meriel Jeater at the Museum of London.
‘During seventeenth-century outbreaks, searchers were employed to check whether sick people had the plague,’ she says. ‘Sick households were shut inside their homes; their door was marked with a cross and watchers stopped people escaping. Thousands of dogs and cats were killed as they were suspected of spreading the disease. Theatres and other public places were closed and bonfires were lit to try and purify the air.’
Not that any of this helped much: during the Great Plague of 1665, an estimated 100,000 people died in London – a fifth of the city’s population. Which kind of puts today’s chlamydia outbreak into perspective.
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