Prize-Winning Animation Lets You Fly Through 17th Century London

Six students from De Montfort University have created a stellar 3D representation of 17th century London, as it existed before The Great Fire of 1666. The three-minute video provides a realistic animation of Tudor London, and particularly a section called Pudding Lane where the fire started. As Londonist notes, “Although most of the buildings are conjectural, the students used a realistic street pattern [taken from historical maps] and even included the hanging signs of genuine inns and businesses” mentioned in diaries from the period.

For their efforts, the De Montfort team was awarded first prize in the Off the Map contest, a competition run by The British Library and video game developers GameCity and Crytek.

Commenting on the video, one judge from the esteemed British Library had this to say:

Some of these vistas would not look at all out of place as special effects in a Hollywood studio production. The haze effect lying over the city is brilliant, and great attention has been given to key features of London Bridge, the wooden structure of Queenshithe on the river, even the glittering window casements. I’m really pleased that the Pudding Lane team was able to repurpose some of the maps from the British Library’s amazing map collection – a storehouse of virtual worlds – in such a considered way.

You can find more information about how the animation came together over at the animators’ blog, plus at The British Library’s Digital Scholarship blog.

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  • Margaret Rose STRINGER says:

    Mind-bogglingly WONDERFUL. These students deserve to graduate instantly in whatever discipline for which they’re enrolled. Can’t finish without noting that their uni is in Leicester: does all the very best stuff in history get done there …?

    • Robert Kelley says:

      Well, if it’s good enough for Richard III, it should be good enough for anyone!

      • Margaret Rose STRINGER says:

        I BEG YOUR PARDON!!! – is there really any need for this negative kind of comment? Or are you pulling my leg (I hope!)?

        • trevH says:

          I see a York-ist here. :-) nnOddly Leicester does seem to have a big history dept as I’ve seen them mentioned in other similar works. Maybe a speciality of the university?

  • Tudorphile says:

    It’s magnificent. If only you could add in the sounds and smells of the time. I often wonder if my 21st century nose could withstand the odor of thousands who have not bathed or washed their clothes, waste and refuse in the street, decomposing food, etc. How would a person today react to such a sudden influx of smells?

  • yodaweed says:

    Man they have got to use this for the basis of a video game of some kind – some sort of swashbuckling adventure me thinks

  • Mandy Sue says:

    This is spectacular, the images and the music. This will facilitate my dreams of flight, I suspect. Just stunning.

  • Robert Kelley says:

    All of those I have shared this with have been stunned. This is a magnificent piece of work. The students deserve the highest praise!

  • brian beaton says:

    Really great! Enjoyed their work.

  • Fred Yaeger says:

    I wonder if any reputable “students” of Tudor London have an opinion on the degree of authenticity of this rendering. We humans are very visual animals – seems many of us easily “believe” a visual image to be accurate, whether it really is, or is not. The still images near the beginning of the video included (sick/dying?) persons on the streets, but the animated scenes do not. Sure, not every detail can be included without a movie-sized budget, but I wonder if those things shown **are** accurate and I wonder what things are omitted. I commend these students for creating this thought-provoking suggestion of 400 yrs ago. Well done!!!

    • trevH says:

      Not a history student, but from what I remember in school, there is quite a bit missing such as throwing the rubbish and other stuff out the windows, sewers down the middle of the streets and lots & lots of rats.nnBut I suspect the people behind it wanted to concentrate more on the buildings and what it might have looked like rather than all the details.nnAs mentioned above, the building designs are likely a guess partly based on maps which showed certain businesses, and our visual understanding of what Tudor buildings looked like – maybe more based on what we see in Chester for example.nnIs very very well done for sure.

  • Nita Jones says:

    I didn’t want it to stop, in fact I wanted to get in there and have a wander about! Well done!

  • Diane P. Diamond says:

    I thought that this was absolutely amazing. The detail and colors are outstanding. Well done to the students for creating this video of 17th century London for us all to enjoy. :-)

  • Diane P. Diamond says:

    I thought that this was absolutely amazing. The detail and colors are outstanding. Well done to the students for creating this video of 17th century London for us all to enjoy. :-)

  • Mobyboy says:

    Brilliant – great job, well done to everyone.

  • Hector says:

    Really excellent. Congratulations on your winning entry. Well deserved. I may use this with my class as a stimuli for writing.

  • Chris says:

    Awesome, it’s like a smelly version of World of Warcraft. :)

  • Joe Harris says:

    Should have used 17th-century music, instead of 21st-century music!

    • Virgil says:

      Joe – it’s a traditional ballad of Great Britain – or do you mean the arrangement? Apparently, it’s thought to be about the Great Plague of the late Middle Ages; it also may have a connection to an obscure Scottish ballad, The Elfin Knight and is generally believed to have originated in the 17th century.

      • justaguy says:

        In 1666 you had the second great period of English music dawning (after that during Elizabeth’s reign), and they chose to go with movie music from 2013. It’s a pity, but it’s also indicative of how far music as an academic discipline has moved away from the other humanities. The other humanities now know nothing about it and produce things like this–excellent in most regards, but failing to produce a true picture of the time. nnnBallads are not really appropriate in any case for the ethos of 1666 London, which was determinedly cosmopolitan and very proud of its secular and sacred music.

      • StephenJohnAvalyanNewton says:

        Its great.

  • rksully says:

    The tudor period ended in 1603, when we’re talking 17th century we’re talking Stuarts, just a fyi for historical accuracy. (I’m a history teacher, I can’t help it!)

    • rksully says:

      I should add that I think it’s a great piece of work! It would be amazing to use in the classroom.

    • Mike Magee says:

      I think the point intended was that most of the building were Tudor, Tudor style, built in Elizabeth’s time and still standing. Just as Dickensian London was primarily Georgian not Victorian.

  • Taylor says:

    What is the song in the background?

  • Keith Wakefield says:

    Absolotly brilliant

  • preemiememe says:

    terrific,,other than the black plague..It makes me want to live there,, :)

  • Rich Thomas says:

    Am I the only one who feels like I’m here to upgrade my armor and find the next quest-giver?

  • Watcher says:

    Very nice. But unpopulated.

  • Keith Parkins says:


  • Keith Parkins says:


  • Kali Farfrae says:

    A bit fast, slow it down, hard on those with motion sickness issues. and the drifting in and out of focus is a bit tough as well. But that maybe solved with slowing it down.. I love it! the details like the flies and garbage is wonderful as well. Will there be more?

  • Julia Clarke says:

    Looks like a backdrop to a Fairy tale; so familiar and yet so alien.

  • an idiot. says:

    very fable 2-esque, very good though.

  • purrna2go says:

    Too fast, with scenes that demand lingering but are passed over. Bad angles. Poor cinematic direction because it meanders with no reference points during the “flyover” (excluding the beginning which was slow and interesting). I felt a bit nauseous with the veering. It would have been much better as a walk-through; not thought out as either a bird nor plane, just crazy veering. But the graphic renditions of old England were heart rendingly beautiful – why not give them their due?

  • Scott says:

    m, Tudor England ended in 1603, when Elizabeth died, and Stuart England started, so I am sure you mean Stuart England…

    • Mike Magee says:

      I think the point intended was that many, perhaps most, of the building were Tudor, Tudor style, built in Elizabeth’s time and still standing. Just as Dickensian London was primarily Georgian not Victorian.

    • carole mclean says:

      It DOES say 17th century, not 16th.

  • Tarja Roffe says:

    Way too fast, had trouble focussing and then it was gone already. Half the speed would be good and then I would love it and watch it over and over. Can you slow it down please, as if walking through the allies and stopping to look around you every now and then… This could be so good!

  • Kay Sloan says:

    Wonderful! Thank you for creating this magnificent journey into the past. So much detail. Great talents here!

  • Kevin Yorke says:

    I was totally and utterly spellbound by this. Words can’t express just how good this is. To the students who created this, THANK YOU.

  • Stuart Federhart Holland says:

    I’m wondering about all the windows in the buildings. I had heard that one of the reasons the houses were so dark is that people were taxed by the number of windows in their houses.

  • Kate Mortimer says:

    This is quite amazing but rather static, in my opinion. Only once did I see any human shapes in the streets, yet we know from historical sources that the streets were not nearly so clean. This city in this era was full of people, smells, rats, dogs and cats, horse droppings and garbage. Where are the mudlarks, those little kids who swarmed the banks of the river to find pickings they might sell for a few pennies?

  • owen says:

    Develop it a little more, combine it with ipad accelerometer and map it using gps, and you could walk through old london, looking at it through your ipad

  • gary says:

    I really liked it, and can’t wait for the next production, but that video converter overlay at the end is highly deceptive and strikes me as an illegitimate use of an advertiser’s prerogatives, implying among other things both that the production Is downloadable and that Video converter is required to download the production and to run it.. Definitely leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth about the whole show, which is really sad.

  • niccolonic says:

    they should go into game development…

  • PuddingLane says:

    Hey all, I’m a member of the team and would just like to say a big thanks for the feature here and the comments below. Just to clarify, we aren’t animators, nor are we historians, so if there are any historical inaccuracies (of which I’m sure there are many) then we apologise! As for populating the world, we worked on this over a 14 week period, so had neither the time nor resources to populate it as much as we’d like. Please head on over to our blog to read more about the team and the processes behind the level. Thanks againnn

  • antoine de couldn't says:

    Loved it – and as realistic as you’re likely to get for this period, unless someone takes a camcorder back on Dr. Emmett Brown’s time Delorean !

  • The Wizard of u00d6zil says:

    Very realistic looking, great work! Would make a great game platform

  • Tom says:

    I think that this is wonderful, but believe that 3 things are missing: the mass of humanity, the dark/dank/dreary/wet cold, and the filth.

  • Roger Benham says:

    Everything moves too fast.

  • Jonny says:

    The Elder Scrolls: London 😉

  • Sarah Lucas says:

    fantastic, thank you, my eight year loves it.

  • DannyJane says:

    One quibble. This is not Tudor London. The Tudors died out in 1601 with the death of Elizabeth I. This is Stewart London.

  • Richard says:

    1603, Danny-Jane, and it’s spelled Stuart, but your point is well-taken.

  • GF2013 says:

    This is superb. Having worked until recently only a few streets away from Pudding Lane, it is brilliant to see a representation of what it may have looked like. Well done

  • Sonia Bennett Murray says:

    Breathtaking! Absolutely beautiful! If I may make one suggestion – slow it down so viewers can enjoy it more!

  • Joy Ashall says:

    Well I loved it and perhaps yes it could
    have been a little slower to take it all in but I thought it wonderful. Thank you.

  • stylus says:

    Nice work! What program was used to create? Painstaking research (or labor of love) into the buildings on particular streets and lanes, if this is all accurate. I’ve done the same thing with 1600 and 1700s Boston, in a picturebook form (not yet published). Beautiful work!

  • Steve Bouler says: Here are 18 VR reconstructions of lost theatres and playhouses from historical eras from the Ancient Greeks through the 17th Century. “Worls of Warcraft for theatre historians.”

  • Dave Anderson says:

    Inspired choice to use the Hans Zimmer music as the soundtrack. As an archaeologist who has just been involved in excavating part of a medieval burgh, I found the whole thing realistic and absolutely fascinating

  • victoria says:

    As a student if this period, I found it amazing that the architecture and the views of the daily life, could be so realistically reproduced.

  • Dorothy (Dot) Commie says:

    Em! Yes – I suppose a rather idealised video portrayal without the effluent and streets running with ‘you know what’. And, where were the people, beasts of burden, miscreant malnourished urchins and dictatorial militia, etc? And, please can you add an app that could give us the putrid smell of the times as well as the quaint cottage upon cottage struggling poverty people of the time view?nnEver so sorry! This is a travesty of history. And, we all know it!

  • Christopher Barnett says:

    I’ve worked with games engines for about 9 years as an animator and 3D model artist so I guess I’ve come to expect more from people =/

  • Louise says:

    not very evocative – few distinctive London places, most of it might be anywhere. no London bridge, whitehall palace, st paul’s churchyard full of bookshops, no theatres etc. and no people – where are they all? the thames was a busy thoeoughfare, full of. Boats of all kinds – where are they?

  • Bob Locke says:

    I assume that this was in the first half of the 17th century, prior to the Great Fire? This was a time when chamber pots were emptied by being dumped out the window. The stench must have been terrific.
    Bob Locke

  • Helen A says:

    wonderful images of London in 16 century. I watched it over again. As others have said, would be better a little slower. Please make some more… it.

  • Alathea A says:

    Very interesting, but (as others have said) too fast, and the “camera” swoops and veers too much. An indication of street names would have been good.

    I wondered about some of the incidental detail. For instance, was any effort made to identify the kind of clothing that might have been hung out to dry? I saw lots of longjohns, but no baggy breeches and no women’s shifts (though given the speed, maybe I just didn’t notice them).

    How accurate is it to show tombstones in a graveyard at this period? The tomb and gravestones shown look typical of the 18th and 19th century. My understanding is that monuments would have been inside the churches: it wasn’t till later that a. the rich would have buried in the churchyard, and b. the less rich would have been able to afford gravestones.

  • Clivus says:

    Nice, but I missed seeing all the people ( Yes I know that makes the animation that much more complicated) it was like looking at a ghost town!

  • Clarice says:

    amazingly clever,i feel it could have been slowed down a little so you could read signs and actually take in more of the buildings.We were kind of whizzed through.

  • Carolyn E. Crist-Schwab says:

    I’m interested. Please forward any necessary details to subscribe.

    Thank you,

    C. E. Crist-Schwab

  • Judy Hunt says:

    Absolutely amazing! The only thing I would change is the speed, I would love to see it slower so you can take more in.

  • Stephen says:

    Thank you-really enjoyed your work.
    So much so that I wish it moved a bit slower.
    Keep up the good work-looking forward to seeing your next project.

  • Jack Holloway says:

    What might it have been like living in 17 century London before the great fire of 1666? This short video feast with music is a GREAT possible depiction. This is fun to watch and quite well done. Read the background information first for the best experience. Best in full screen with your sound up. Having walked the streets and back alleys of modern London myself a few times I found this more than interesting. I even did a pub walk one time with a historian leading the group through the area of “Jack the Ripper”.

    London is one of the great cities of the world (one of my 5 most favorites of Europe), and this is a new and different way to experience it.

    Enjoy! Jack.

  • sam says:

    if it was a tad faster we could wave our hands in the air and squeal.

  • Fiona Brannon says:

    I really enjoyed watching this but agree with other comments that is have liked it to be a little slower. I would also like to comment on the music. Why choose something that is not representative of 17th century London? You’ve gone to all this effort to create an amazing representation but the music is completely inappropriate. Shame.

  • Mudhooks says:

    Those complaining about the reference to this being “Stuart England” not Tudor are missing the mark. While the time-period was Stuart England, the area of London being portrayed was built in Tudor times and had not changed one iota. It quite literally WAS Tudor London. One doesn’t refer to a Tudor building as 21st century simply because we are viewing it in 2015. Old Tudor London was destroyed by the fire of 1666 and rebuilt. Until then, it remained Tudor London.

  • Mudhooks says:

    I meant to say “complaining about the reference to this being Tudor London, not Stuart London”.

  • pam sekula says:

    Excellent but a little bit spooky having non of the residents of old London on the scene. The first and second images remind me of Fish Street in Shrewsbury, it still looks very much the same today.

  • Mary says:

    This is amazing, I’ve watched it three times so far! The music is lovely and fits my idea of what a tune could sound like at that time. Great work, students!

  • Clare fraser says:

    My architect friend shared this on facebook with me, it is wonderful.
    Would love to show it to a year 2 class( age 6-7) in a primary school in London if possible? They are currently studying the great fire of London, soon to visit pudding lane ,and this would no doubt truly inspire them.
    Could you suggest how I would do this.. We have a whiteboard and computers but might you have a link please.
    You should copyright this ASAP and sell it to the schools in the uk as it is on the curriculum! Go for it.
    Good luck
    Clare fraser( mother of 3 and teaching assistant)

  • Sarah Howell says:

    Excellent! An amzing job! I can think of so many uses for this with my students.

    Only one comment…it might be nice to slow it down a little…but that might be an age thing and me needing more time to pick up detail. My students seem to be much faster at picking up visual detail – that itself is an activity!

    Thank you.

  • John Dalton says:

    It’s a great piece of work, but I feel the viewer is hurried along at ‘modern’ dizzying speed, rather than walking pace. Also: shouldn’t all the paths and cobbled streets have runnels in the centre, for the slops, dead dogs and other rubbish?

  • Anska says:

    Gosh, this is awesome.

    I would have LOVED to have explored 17th century London Bridge which is SO amazingly different to that which we have today. There was a tantalising moment I thought we were going to go onto it.

    London Bridge Fantasy. Would be great to see under it, over it, from a distance and through it from north to south and back again.

    Please please please can you do a tour of London Bridge please???? Pretty please?

  • Sally says:

    Wonderful detail but it needs to pan a little slower to give the viewer time to take in what they are seeing. Also, some of the sequences are too short. Walking pace would make this so much better.

  • Michele says:

    very cool!

  • Lylah Guptill says:

    I was lucky enough to have a month in Britain just 2 weeks ago and got a glimpse of the old buildings every so often and loved them, coming from a country that does not have buildings much older than 100-150 years old, I would have loved to have the opportunity to have seen these in their original state although life would probably have been too hard for me, so thank you for the little trip into the past

  • Phil Cosland says:

    too much glass I think – most places would be shuttered and shutters closed at night. Pane glass was very expensive and rare but seems almost abundant here.

    Those saying about open sewers, many sewers were underground in the walled city of London, romans built sewers that weren’t weren’t replaced till 1800 or so.

  • exDMUstudent says:

    This project wasn’t by history students, so just a shared interest I think.

  • Uncle Joe says:

    Insisting this be labeled “Stuart” London and not, “Tudor,” is the height of pretentious absurdity.

  • Dale M says:

    Very nice indeed.

    No bad there weren’t people in the video though,

  • Cloud Ponderer says:

    Well, they’ve certainly got the Thomas Kincaid lighting down.

  • Pandora says:

    Hope they do it so that we can watch with 3D glasses, using the mapping ‘Street View’ technique.

  • michael rice says:

    thank you

  • michael rice says:

    THANK YOU……..

  • chizl says:


    There are so few actually good historical games. Red dead Redemption took advantage of this and turned out MAGICAL.

  • Robin Burcham says:

    Wow, this is the period and place I have found most interesting, and I have chill bumps. This was incredible.

  • 3Dflythrough says:

    Great post full of great points

  • Nik says:

    youtube have a feature if you press the video quality icon you can select a slower speed.

  • Erik Dunst says:

    Excellent work! Thank you sooo much, all contributors, for this “magical experience”!

  • Erik Dunst says:

    Sally, if you do not mind: youtube has a feature if you press the video quality icon you can select a slower speed.

  • Sally Clarke says:

    Brilliant….magical even.

  • Griffin Lang says:

    Yes they should have used some music recorded in 1666 on records made of sliced oak trunk.

  • Brenda Hascall says:

    I really enjoyed your production. You did a fantastic job and you can be proud. Okay, you didn’t choose music from that time period, but I still liked the mood that the music you chose set. I think it created an interesting affect and really that’s what music is about, to enhance the overall experience. Good Work!

  • Will Musgrave says:

    Excellent piece of work. I think people who make minor complaints are being pedantic – this is not a Hollywood production! As for one of the early comments about there being no smell, I think if you go to Yorvik in York they do a roller-coster type of tour through the ‘old town’ with authentic odours. I don’t actually know as the woman in the carriage in front of me was wearing a really pungent perfume which knumbed my nasal passages! Anyway, great job, although it did rather remind me of parts of modern-day Bristol!

  • Jennidia says:

    The platform reminds me a lot of SecondLife. I have met many builders and gaming engineers crafting make your “sims” – servers this. Very well done. If you are ever looking at a similar platform to work on check out that program.

  • Jennidia says:

    Crafting on a platform such as this called sims.* Which are servers. Sorry my autocorrect killed my earlier post.

  • Graham WEEKS says:

    Too clean and underpopulated.

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