1727 Burwell Barn Fire

Famous Fires In History – 1727 Burwell Barn Fire

On September 8, 1727, 51 children, and 27 adults, were killed in a horrific fire in a barn at Burwell. They had crammed in to watch a travelling puppet show. What made this tragedy so deadly was the fact that the barn door had been nailed shut after all the spectators had gone inside. A first-hand report from a survivor claimed many more people than the barn could accommodate wanted to see the show, so the door was nailed shut to prevent anyone else from coming in.

The shocking story of the Burwell fire in Cuckolds Row is remembered in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin church. This is done with a memorial depicting a flaming heart. On the tombstone are the words: “To the memory of the 78 people who were burnt to death in a barn at Burwell on September 8, 1727.”

The story is told in Burwell’s parish register: “At about 9 o’clock on the evening of September 8th 1727, a fire broke out in a barn, in which a great number of persons were met together to see a puppet show.” The cause of the fire was a lantern with a lighted candle in it, which had been accidentally knocked over, setting fire to straw.

All those who died were buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s.

Image Sources – 1727 Burwell Barn Fire

Image 1 – Fire At Burwell – link