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The Great Plague hit London in the spring of 1665 and scythed away full a quarter of its population. In the built-up area between the City, Westminster and Southwark, 100,000 died. It was the last gasp of a fatally persistent pandemic that had first struck the timbered medieval metropolis in 1348. What follows are some extracts from my book London: A Travel Guide through Time, in which I bring — hopefully in an uncomfortably vivid way — to life what it was like to live in, or at least visit, the capital at the height of the Plague, when buboes were sprouting on people’s necks, armpits and groins like there was no tomorrow.

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