The Foxearth and District Local History Society
The Weather of East Anglia

By David Lindley

It helps the local historian to understand many historical events by knowing what the transitory and long-term weather was like. Over years of work as a local historian, David Lindley has noted down any mention of unusual weather in diaries or newspapers, added more general indications of the weather and built up an archive that tells us that there is nothing new about extreme weather in East Anglia, and often gives us a useful context of a historic event.

The medieval chronicler John of Oxenede recorded a storm surge in 1287 which covered large areas with sea water. There are records of flooding in east Norfolk in 1340 & 1343.

from Deserted Villages in Norfolk by Alan Davison, Poppyland Publications 1996, page 24-25


Storm damaged Dunwich,


A great tide pounded at the east coast, accompanied by a storm of unabated fury. The chronicler, Holinshed, wrote: "It washed up the ocean in such tremendous waves that the banks gave way and the whole country lay completely exposed to its awful fury". Shipping was damaged, trees uprooted, entire flocks of sheep and herds of cattle were drowned, houses destroyed and beaches swept away. The toll of human life was appalling. According to Holinshed "in one village there were buried one hundred corpses in one day".


More than 100 people were drowned at Hickling in Norfolk when the sea surged into the village in the the middle of the night. Men, women and infants were drowned or suffocated in their beds and "many, when surrounded by the waters, sought a place of refuge by mounting into trees, but benumbed by the cold they were overtaken by the water and fell into it and were drowned".


January: terrible storm engulfed 400 Houses at DUNWICH,


A violent "hurricane" blew down the upper part of Norwich Cathedral steeple and caused considerable injury to members of the choir. Bishop Percy gave £400 out of his own purse for reparation.


Fall in annual temperature.


Widespread harvest failures


Widespread harvest failure


Widespread harvest failure


Famine years, disastrous harvests


Better harvests


Great tempest at Blythburgh, blew down spire.


Bad harvests (in later 1580s). Wet summers.


Great Fire of Beccles, when the Waveney was said to have been frozen over in November.


Very wet Summer - disastrous crop - many cattle died. Waveney probably flooded & washed away cut hay.


Five disastrous harvest on account of very heavy & unseasonable rainfall. Great floods. Some people starved to death in some upland counties


"A dreadful inundation of the sea on 13th November", laments the historian Dugdale. The sea rose 13 ft Norfolk marshland sustained appalling damage. At Terrington the collapse of the sea banks was total and the town suffered enormous losses. Dugdale records that "a bridge was shattered, over 2,000 head of livestock drowned, 480 acres of land sown with corn were swamped and 13 houses ruined". During the same storm the three mile-long bank at Walpole was breached in 20 places. The total losses suffered by Norfolk Marshland exceeded £37,000.


Hot summer with drought similar to that of 1612


"great Norwich flood" which rose 11 feet perpendicular in 24 hours. An appeal was made to the country on behalf of the Southwold fishermen, whose harbour had suffered "through the violence of the water."


Frost fair held on the Thames


April: Justices: Insufficient corn to last till harvest.


 Dry and hot summer


 Severe winter, Thames froze over


 Severe drought, rainless for months 


Late January snowfall, lasted 8 days


Cost of wheat: 60s. First of six bad harvests


Cost of wheat: 65s. Bad harvest


very wet, and the summer was described as "worse than some of the past winters"


Thames froze over


long lying snow, lasting from December through until March!


A 'wild stormy night' when roofs were blown down, as well as Chimneys. Noted as the night Oliver Cromwell died.


Possibly the coldest day ever in England, with a severe frost lasting about 2 months.


3 of 5 winters in this period were described as cold, with severe frosts. Skating was launched on the Thames, for the pleasure of King Charles 2nd.


In November, a deep depression was recorded, possibly the lowest recorded in London, of 931 millibars


Thames covered in ice


Santon Downham was overwhelmed by a sand storm which covered more than 1,000 acres, the whole area "having the appearance of a beaten sea coast without the least vegetation".


A cold year in regards to the milder ones proceeding it. Thames froze over, again.


“Frost and great snow”. March snowfall, lasted for 13 days, described as ' The thirteen drifty days' . Many sheep perished.

Feb. 24 1674:

it began to snow and soe continued till ye 6th of March by reason of why ye groimd and Lanes about ye towne were soe filled with snow that they were impassible, and men could not walke abroad about their businesse without great danger for many daies ; we occasioned such great floods that many suffered great damage,and ye men could not till ye ground till after our Lady.


 June exceptionally hot


This yeare ye springe was so forward, that Harvest for wintercome was begun in omi towne the I5th of July and generally ended the weeke following. This yeare was soe great a drought that almost all the wells about the market stead were dry, and so continued till after Christmas.


Thames froze, again! Becoming a regular occurance.


Winter was severe, with lots of Easterly winds. The Easterlies brought dry air.


This yeare began a drought about the middle of March and continued till the begining of July by reason of which we had little or noe hay soe that it was sold for great prices before the  raine. But in July it pleased God to send raine, soe as we had in this towne a good cropp of all graine beyond hope or expectation ; soe that when we feared a famine we had a great plenty ; and the want of hay was supplied by the soweing of Turneps.


This year in Aprill fell so much raine we continued till about the midle of May ; that we could not sowe Barly soe that men did not in this towne make an end of soweing till y" 28*" of May : Notwith- standing the  Crop was indiferent good.
there was a very hard winter in England, corn was imported from the Continent; and fuel was so scarce, that peat dug from the bogs, sold for two shillings the hundredweight.


upon the 27th of September it was soe great a ffrost as the Ice would beare a goose and it did snow by the space of 6 or 7 howers very fast in the afternoone soe as the  like was never known by any of us in these parts and in the beginging of December it began to ffreese and soe continued till the  midle of February, with, little intermission.

late 17th C

bitter winters throughout Europe and Britain.


was a particularly bitter winter with an average temperature of minus 1.2 degrees Centigrade for December, January and February.  The Thames was frozen all the way up to London Bridge by early January 1684. for two months. The ice being up to 11 ins thick. There were ice flows measuring five kilometres off the Channel coasts and thirty kilometres in the north sea. Where there was no snow cover in the South of England the frost  went down to a depth of nearly four feet. The snow cover lasted for over a hundred and twelve days, when the average at that time was seventy five days.


Feoffees 12 February

Beccles Feoffees: payment made to those breaking the ice to preserve Beccles Bridge


Minutes 28 February

Corporation of Beccles Fen: Ten pounds be forthwith paid to the Overseers to be distributed amongst the Poor


Minutes 31 March

Corporation of Beccles Fen: The ten pounds ordered to be paid to the Overseers of the poor be not now paid as the rigour of the cold weather which was the occasion that moved this court did presently abate.


This yeare was a great drought which began about the  midle of Aprill and continued until the  midle of August betwixt which ' times, was very little raine, soe that there was a very smale crop of Hay and Sumer corne. Upon the  24th of October at night was a great tempest of thunder and lightning with much snow and raine which lasted above an hower.


This yeare was a great drought in summer but a mild winter soe as hay was not above 2' per cwt and the best 2' 6d


Long and severe frosts, Thames froze over.


3rd May

"There fell snow from two o'clock in the afternoon to six in the evening." (Congregational Church Book of Guestwick, Norfolk).


A dry summer


In the Upminster record (Essex), the rainfall for March was 0.79 ins / 20 mm, & for April, the figure was 0.29 ins / 7 mm.


[26 November Bishop of Wells, Richard Kidder & his wife killed during storm when chimney fell on them in Palace]


27th of November

at Beccles, the leads of the church ripped up, part of the great window blown down and the whole town exceedingly shattered

“Generally around the country there is incredible damage done to churches, houses and barns.”

In London alone, 21 people were killed. In the New Forest in Hampshire 4,000 trees uprooted and a number of ships were lost in the North Sea. According to Hollingsworth “above four hundred windmills were overset, broken or fired by the sails going round with such velocity that the friction of the wheels set the mills on fire.” The violent wind was accompanied by lightning and torrential rain. In the night And the 27 In the morning there "Was such a Tarrable strong Winde As Haue not Hapned in the Memory of Any Man then Liveing which Overturned A Great Many Howsis and Barnes and Seurall persons Lost their Lives by the ffall of Chemneys and Housis and A very Great Dammag At Sea iSeurall men of Warr Ware Liost Besides A Great maney smaller Yesills and Seurall Thousand of Sea men Lost there Lives,

1702: Nov 26th

Rev Dereham

the Wind was S.S.W. and high all day, and so continu'd till I was in Bed and asleep. About 12 that Night the Storm awaken'd me, which gradua]ly encreas'd til near 3 that Morning .... my Vane blown down


Storm claimed the lives of 8,000 people

THE storm which struck England on 26th November, 1703 and wrought havoc from Cornwall to Kent has often been described as "the worst hurricane ever known." The writer Daniel Defoe captured the full horror in a documentary account in which he described how carriages were blown into fields, boats were lifted out of rivers onto dry ground, warships were destroyed and more than 8,000 people killed. The tempest was considered to be a token of Divine displeasure. By the time it had reached East Anglia it had blown out a great deal of its fury but King's Lynn lost seven ships and 20 men perished. Damage sustained to buildings in the town was considered to be at least £1,000. It also tore the roof from Ely Cathedral but Bristol suffered worse than any other city "because of the overflowing of the tide".


November: From Norwich cathedral records . . . "Two great floods in Norwich". (If it is this time of year, suggests events due to heavy / prolonged rainfall rather than severe thunderstorms.)


Rev Dereham

There was a hot summer in 1707--" one who had formerly been my Servant, a healthy, lusty, young Man, was killed by the Heat; and several Horses on the road dropped down and died the same Day


The coldest Spring, Summer, and Autumn for 47 years, other than 1698


 Severe winter, the frost lasted for over 3 months! Temperatures plummeted to -18c. Thames froze in London, once again!

1710 5th Dec

In this yeare 1710 Ypon the 5 Day of December About 1 In the after Noone It Thundered and Lightned soe Terrably As Hath not Binn seen By the Remembrance of Any Man Living, fibr the tjTae of the Year which was Accompnid with A Violent Storme of Hayle and Rayne and A Very High wind the night following.

1713: 15th February

From Norwich Cathedral Records of: "The high wind blew down the north-west pinnacle of the tower which in its fate made a great breach in the roof of the north aisle. This Yeare 1713 Vpon the 15 of february About ffour of The Clock In the After Noone was suche A Tarrable Violent Wind As Overturned Several Howesis and Barms and the Great Tree at Depham and Did Great Dammag At Sea.


Outstandingly dry: the annual rainfall at Upminster (Essex) was some 11.25 inches (or 286 mm)


 In the next yeare 1714 Upon the P' of fiebuary in the  afternoone was such a Tarrable Wind As over Turnd A Great many Barms and Housis.


January: another particularly bad winter when the Thames froze, it was recorded that a high spring tide raised the ice four meters without disturbing the frost fair which was taking place on the ice.

1717 24th/25th Dec

According to Hubert Lamb, this was 'one of the greatest historically recorded storm disasters on the coasts of the North Sea in terms of loss of life - possibly since the beginning of major dyke building.' About 11 000 people are reported to have died,


Severe winter.


A dry summer


Severe winter, frost and snow remained for at least a month. Very cool spring. A wet summer. In September, fog recorded on 6 days


Very dry, after a 'great frost' at the start of the year. Very cold first period of the year, with much snow and ice. London recorded -18c. A warm summer.

1736 Feb

That on Monday y« 2P' Febuary 1736 Between the Hours of five and six a Clock in the Evening their was Such a Terrible Clap of Thunder with prodigious Lighting and so great a Storm of Haill as put People in a great Consternation and the  like never remember' d by any in the Season of  the Year.

Significant flooding in Westminster & Whitehall ('two feet through Westminster Hall') and the high waters affected much of the Thames shoreline downstream to the Essex & Kent coasts; serious inundation of low-lying areas across the English Fens and other eastern marshlands was also recorded. The severe gale caused a loss of shipping right around the coasts of the British Isles. An additional factor was high rainfall, which apparently affected large areas of Britain, itself causing extensive flooding.


A "long hard winter" in which the coast from Essex to Newcastle was "strowed" with wrecks through damage caused by wind and ice. . This winter was probably  the most severe since records began. .A contemporary writer said: "In that terrible winter there were scenes of greater damage than has ever been known in the memory of man." Ice formed on the Thames. Streets were blocked up with ice and snow, which made travelling hazardous. The Thames remained frozen over for about 8 weeks. temperatures fell to -24c in early January. The Easterly gale persisted, with snow and frost becoming an increasing hazard to all. Northerlies also started up, very strong in places, with again snow and ice


Severe winter, one of the worst. May have been worse than that of 1715 (?). Late December saw a severely strong Easterly gale set up, brining very cold air over the UK. Ice formed on the Thames, once again. Streets were blocked up with ice and snow, which made travelling hazardous. The Thames remained frozen over for about 8 weeks (?). Some reports said this winter was the most severe on record, with temperatures falling to -24c in early January (1995 beat this and holds the record for the coldest minima in the UK ever). The Easterly gale persisted, with snow and frost becoming an increasing hazard to all. Northerlies also started up, very strong in places, with again snow and ice. This winter can be noted as one of the most severe of all time (since records began). According to one report (Rev. W. Derham, Upminster) the frost of this winter was the most severe on record and the temperature on 3rd January was down to -11degF (-24 degC).


Coldest October on record, with ice already formed in parts. 1740 was very cold as a whole, the spring was also cold.

1740 April 21st

on April 21st A very deep Snow.

1740  4th May

That on Sunday y* fourth of May 1740 About Six in the Evening it began to Snow and Continued all night and untill Monday noon and the Sun gat out and between three and four in the  afternoon we had Several large Cracks of Thunder proceeded by A Violent Storm of  Hail and A great flight of Snow till near Sunset and that night Such a Sharp frost as no Man then liveing Remembered the  Like


Ice in the Thames, very cold once again.


Severe frost in November in London and the South.


Severe frost in November, again in the South and London.

1750 March 3rd

On the Sunday the Third of March 1750 in the Afternoon we had a Violent and Shocking Tempest which Continued Several Hours with little or no Intermission of Thundering and Ligtning such as was never known at this Season of y' Year by the oldest Man Liveing.

1754 July 29th

We had here yesterday evening between 6 and 7 such a violent storm of hail, rain and wind, with lightning as never known in living memory of man, hailstones as big as pigeon eggs in various shapes, it has done considerable damage to corn fields with wheat stalks broke in half and almost having beat out with barley ears lying as if cut off with a sickle, turnips were all washed away so must be sown again and glass in windows was broken


More than 300 houses and eight parish churches were inundated during the "great Norwich flood" which rose 12 feet perpendicular in 24 hours. It was 15 inches higher than a similar flood in 1619 but lower by 13 inches than in 1613.


Snow fell early on (late October) in London and the South.

1762 October

"On the 28th of October, 1762, the Books were spoiled by an Inundation of Water, the Pews driven up, and the whole floor was sunk, and the Gravestones let in except in the Chancel.” (St. Mary Coslany, Norfolk)

1762 Nov 6

Bures bridge, near Sudbury washed away by the violence of the flood on Tuesday last.

1762 Nov 13

the bridge at Ford Street in Halsted road, Essex greatly damaged by the flood


Intense frost and strong Easterlies prevailed from Christmas day right through January in London and the South.


Severe winter, cold persisted from early on (November) until February.

Early 1767 and 1768:

Started with frosts comparable to that of 1739-40.


Snow came late (May)


January saw severe frost and deep snow.

1769 July 15

Terrible storm of thunder and lightning attended with heavy rain in the neighbourhood of Acton, Suffolk


Late snowfall (May) in South

1770  Aug 18

We hear last Thursday a violent storm with thunder, lightning and rain struck the village of Stanningfield near Bury, Suffolk, three horses were struck dead by the lightning and many acres of corn were flattened.


A great storm occurred early in the morning of 18th December and at daybreak 18 ships were seen on a sandbank off Lowestoft, "half of which number went to pieces before 9 o'clock". It is estimated that 200 sailors were drowned.

1770: 28 Dec

Severe hurricane on the 28th. Much shipping lost off Harwich and Lowestoft.

1771:6th Nov


Heavy rain & floods at Kings Lynn.


April 29th excessive heat, thermometer 85 deg. (29.5 c), and no other day so hot all that year.


Severe winter. From early January to early February much of the UK and Europe was very cold. The Thames froze. Stormy February followed.


1st of August: From every part of the kingdom there are most pleasing accounts of a plentiful harvest, which is already begun in Hertfordshire etc; the farmers say that flour before Christmas will be so low as 24s per sack.

1779 Jan 9

At Weston near Stanton in Suffolk a miller and his man were trying to keep the mill against the wind were killed by the mill falling on them through the violence of the storm.


A long period of unusual heat from the close of February to the end of Autumn.  The earliest year ever known.

1779 August 7

Yesterday se'nnight in the morning during a violent storm, a ball of fire fell down the chimney of Mr Cooper of Letheringham, Suffolk, which caused great damage, several of the family were for some time speechless and two maid servants continue to be very ill, being much burnt with their clothes catching fire, about the same time five young horses standing under a tree by the side of a rivulet were killed by lightning,

1780. May 29th.

thermometer 84 deg (28.9 c).


Severe winter. Coldest winter in the series in Edinburgh (series from 1764-65 to 1962-63)

1782. 2 June:

Gowing’s Diary,

Gillingham Fen flooded

1782 Jan 11

"I suppose you have heard of the dreadful scene lately exhibited on this coast during the last storm; the particulars are as indescribable as they were deplorable.”

1782 April

The Weather which has so uncommonly prevailed this year, has been ascribed, by a philosophical writer, who has lately published a tract on the subject, to the baneful influence of the two planets, Jupiter and Saturn, which for some months past have been in conjunction with, or apparently very near to each other.
   "If it is allowed (says he) that the Sun or Moon have their influences on the earth, it will not be difficult to demonstrate that Jupiter and Saturn, which are within our system, have likewise their peculiar influences, especially when they are in such aspects that their united rays fall forcibly upon us, which, though inferior to the Sun or Moon, yet contribute various ways to affect our atmosphere.
Dr GOADBY, in Meteorologia, has carefully examined the face of nature for several centuries back; and indisputably proves the influence of Saturn and Jupiter upon the Earth. -- Their conjunction, he observes, very rarely happens; but when it does, their effects are very severely felt. -- He mentions, that on one conjunction of those planets, it is recorded, that the inundations in France, Germany, and other countries, were prodigious, carrying away great numbers of people, horses, and other cattle. -- Another conjunction, many years after, occasioned dreadful storms of thunder and lightning, and hail; and the inhabitants of the different parts of Europe were afflicted with dangerous diseases. -- The effects of the present conjunction we have for some months past, experienced, in the change of our summer to what may be almost termed a winter season, and in the late universal disorder which affected all degrees of people throughout Europe..

1782 June

A small smuggling cutter in the late tempestuous weather was drove on shore near Cley, and entirely wrecked, the cargo, after having been buried in the beach by the crew, and lying 4 days, notwithstanding the vigilance of the officers, was carried clear off

1782 July 6

The excessive coldness of the spring has given such a check to vegetation, that in many places in this kingdom the people find it extremely difficult to keep their cattle alive. Indeed , letters from Scotland mention, that the farmers have been obliged to kill many of their beasts, having neither grass nor fodder to support them; and around Plymouth several cattle have died for want. Similar accounts have been received from Ireland.  Yesterday sennight there was the most violent storm of hail at Weston, in this county, ever remembered.

Wednesday se'nnight, in the afternoon, near 700 glass lights and panes of glass were broke in the garden and windows of Thomas WHITE, of Tattingstone, near Ipswich, Esq., by the hail-stones that fell during the thunder storm, many of which were near two inches in circumference

1782 Sept 28

Last week in a violent tempest at Brundish in Suffolk, two brothers who were in a field having taken shelter under a tree, both were struck by lighting and one was killed and the other made insensible. When he recovered he went home and being asked by his mother where he had been, he said asleep and that on  going to the spot where they had sheltered the poor boy was found dead The deceased was struck in the temple and in a direct line down his body, when he was undressed the flesh came off on the side he was struck.

1783 June

The "Laki haze". Sulphurous gas from an eruption in Iceland suffocates more than 10,000 in eastern England, followed by about 8,000 deaths in winter.  the death rate in Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire and the east coast was perhaps two or three times the normal rate.


Gowing’s Diary, 18 Aug:

Hot day. A fiery meteor came over the town, looked very beautiful.


Two succesive severe winters. The Thames froze completely in both, almost continuous frost lasted from early to late winter. Snow remained for as long as 4 months. Attributed to the  Icelandic volcanic eruption  from the Laki fissure and the adjoining volcano Grímsvötn , Heavy snow also fell early on in both years, with snow falling as early as October.


Gowing’s Diary, 1 April:

The sharp frost and deep snow, the most in one night that hath been this year. Very cold day, storms of snow, sharp frost at night.

1784 may 28th

On the 28th of last month  an alarming storm with thunder, lightning and hail fell on the parishes of Chapel-White Colne and Pebmarsh in Essex, it continued for about 3/4; of an hour un abated, there was no damage but a poor man was struck down in Yeldham but not seriously injured

The hail was uncommonly large, mostly oblong about one inch in length and 1 and a 1/2; inches round, it almost destroyed entirely several fields of peas and stripped the trees of their verdure.


Gowing’s Diary, 23 Aug:

Gillingham flooded


Gowing’s Diary, 10 Jan:

“Sharp, frosty morning. Skating.”

Bad harvest: The year of dearth


was a cold year generally. Sleet was recorded near the coast of the Moray Firth in August! Heavy snow fell in the South in October. The year was ranked in the top 10 coldest years recorded in the CET series.


was very dry and cold, with again early snow in October.

1785 July 30

Yesterday se'nnight there was a remarkable storm of rain and hail in Coggeshall in Essex as ever known to memory of man, water ran in torrents, the first waters were carried away to the ponds, a carp of near 3lbs was catched in the middle of Coggeshall street.


Severe frost and much snow in the middle of April.


 had a very dry summer, and was persistantly cold from September to November.


Isaac Blowers’s Diary:

Friday 6th January: Frost breaking up. At near 12 Mr Tyrell Carter, the surgeon, found the post-lad and horse in the ditch in Mr Amyas’s pasture having (by the road being filled nearly full by the drift of snow) rode upon the hedge. The horse fell over & in the struggle the horse had forced the lad under him an which situation he was found dead.


Gowing’s Diary, 6 Jan:

“Boy Boyce, Post Boy lost in snow.”


A white Christmas. On Boxing Day, Parson Woodforde of Norwich wrote in his diary: "Very sharp frost last night and this morning. It froze the water in my basin that I wash in quite over, in half an hour after it had been brought upstairs."


Gowing’s Diary, 10 Aug:

“Very sharp tempest began last night between 10 and 11 o’clock and held till 4 this morning. Large hail stones as big as walnuts”


Gowing’s Diary, 31 Dec:

“Sharp frost, cloudy, winds, much snow this evening. This has been the sharpest month ever known by the memory of man.” [Storming of Bastille 14 July 1789]


Gowing’s Diary: Jan

“This last frost, a fair kept on the River Thames. Likewise a sheep roasted on the ice.”


Gowing’s Diary, 31 Oct

“High winds and rain, storms of hail and snow; a great number of ships sunk and blown on shore.”


Long frost lasting from late November, until early January. The Thames froze completely, and a 'frsot Fair' was held on it.


Gowing’s Diary, 15 Dec

Very high winds; little rain; the Stand on the Common blown down.


Gowing’s Diary, 28 Feb:

“A great flood”.


Gowing’s Diary, 17 July:

“Very hot, extremely hot.”


Gowing’s Diary, 12 Sept:

“Much rain. Gillingham flooded.”


This year was remarkably unhealthy from the great drought,


Exceptionally severe winter. The cold beginning on Christmas Eve, and lasting until late March, with a few temporary breaks. January was particularly cold, with a CET of 0.8c. It was the coldest January in the instrumental era, beginning 1659. The Severn and The Thames froze, and 'Frost Fairs' started up again. An extremely bitter temperature of -21c was recorded in London, on January 25th. In early February, there was a rapid, but only temporary thaw. Flooding ensued. The severe cold returned slightly later (mid February) and continued well into March. There were many recorded snow events. The winter was anticyclonic (High Pressure dominated) and Easterlies were dominant throughout. Up in Scotland, it was the seventh coldest at Edinburgh, in the series 1764/65 1962/63. (coldest 1779/80). The winter was memorable for all.


Great heat from the 18th to the 27th April.

1795 August 19

Two cottages at Gt Waldingfield were burnt down on  Thursday night in the tremendous storm of lightning.


Gowing’s Diary, 6 Nov:

Remarkable high winds from 3 in the morn till 6. The Mill on Coindon Hill blown down. Many more mills blown down.”


Gowing’s Diary, 3 Jun:

“Rainy day without intermission. Much rain and wind.”


Gowing’s Diary, 5 Jun:

“A great flood. Boats rowed on the Fen.”


Gowing’s Diary, 2 Oct:

“Fine pleasant day Beccles Fair. Greater news from Horatio Nelson who took nine ships. Ringing ships.”


Another white Christmas. Turkeys, in abundance, sold at 7d per lb in Norwich market. Parson Woodforde wrote: "We have not had so severe weather for years. I can scarce live in it. No beds warmed either. Frost in the parsonage. Milk and cream icy.   Meat like blocks of wood."


Gowing’s Diary, 2 Feb:

“Frost and much snow. The roads impassable for carriages.”


Gowing’s Diary, 3 Jun:

“On Monday, the 3rd a very bad tempest betwixt Yarmouth & St Olave’s Bridge with great storms of hail.”



December was severe, with frosts in London and elsewhere. -21c was recorded in London, as was -19c.


Severe frost lasted from late December to early January in London and the South. Heavy snowfalls were recorded, especially in North Eastern Scotland, where transport was dislocated for quite some time.


Spring was very cold, and was recorded as being very cold in the CET series


Good harvest


Gowing’s Diary, 17 Dec:

Skating on the River.”


Piercing cold for many days in May, and a great fall of snow on 15th and 16th.


Bad harvest


Gowing’s Diary, 3 Aug:

“Very sharp tempest, very fierce rain. All the cockeys choke up. The streets flooded from one till 2 the morn.”


Gowing’s Diary, 13 Aug:

“It rained remarkable fast from one o’clock till half past five.”

1805. April 29th,

Snow four inches deep in Ipswich


A whirlwind produced mayhem at Rockland St Mary. A rowing boat lying on a bank of the Broad was lifted into the air and propelled a distance of 70 yards. A young man suffered similar treatment.


Much snow and frost in March and April.


A heavy fall of snow rendered the roads impassable on 11th February and the mail from Newmarket was unable to get through. The guard of the mail rode across country with the mail bags and, from Bury, took a poste chaise to Norwich. He arrived at 4 pm the following day. In August a storm at Norwich produced such a cloudburst that "the roaring of the waters falling from the roof to the lower leads of the Cathedral was so tremendous as to drown the noise of the thunder that accompanied it".


Bad harvest


May 2nd, very hot, and an awful storm of hail and thunder here at 5 p.m. The hail was as large as the egg of a bantam hen, and did much damage to windows, here and at Eye.


Gowing’s Diary, 2 Jun:

“Pleasant morn. A very heavy storm of hail betwixt 12 and 1 o’clock; the ground quite white. Loud claps of thunder. Fine after.”


Gowing’s Diary, 21 Aug:

“Most farmers finish harvest.”



Great snows in April, but on 14th, 15th, and 16th May the thermometer stood from 80 (26.5 c) to 86 deg. (30 c)

1808. July 20th

 Bury &Norwich post.

The thermometer in shelter at at Hartest rose to 97 degrees (36 centigrade), supposed to have been the highest ever recorded in the county.


Gowing’s Diary, 10 April:

“Gillingham Fen flooded 3 feet.”

1808 February

"about 11 o'clock on Thursday night heavy snow continued through the night at Bury, every road being blocked to the town and about 100 persons were at a ball in the New Rooms, they tried to get home but were obliged to return, many were accommodated at the Angel and Greyhound Inns and in  private with friends. In the market place and other streets there was a   level 3 feet, a sentinel guard at Woodbridge Barracks is supposed to have  perished and another soldier is lost in the snow.

1808 August 8th

A remarkable storm occurred at Norwich.  Streets were inundated and cellars flooded.  “The roaring of the waters in falling from the roof to the lower leads of the Cathedral was so tremendous as literally to drown the noise of the thunder that accompanied it.”


A rapid thaw on 28th January led to an inundation of parts of Norwich. Boats were needed in the street at St Martin-at-Oak where the water was six feet deep. A violent gale the next day blew down a chimney and killed the occupants of a house in Cokey Lane. A large tree, planted on 30th January 1649 — the day that King Charles I was beheaded — blew down. ‘In consequence of a rapid thaw, the low lying parts of Norwich were flooded.  “Some of the houses were six or seven feet under water,” and boats were rowed in the street at St. Martin-at-Oak.  The marshes below Norwich were so inundated that the course of the river could not be traced, and the barge proceeding to Yarmouth had to return, in consequence of the men being unable to find the channel.’

1809 January 30th

During a violent gale a stack of chimneys fell on the roof of an old house in Cockey Lane, Norwich.  Mr. and Mrs. Graham were buried in the ruins and killed.  On the same night a large tree in Sprowston Park was blown down.  It was planted the day King Charles was beheaded, January 30th, 1649.


Gowing’s Diary, 27 Jan:

“Ellough bridge blown up.”


. April 21st. a very deep snow, but the whole month of May was very hot summer weather, and a great thunder storm with hail on 19th.


Cost of wheat 102s


Precarious harvest


Harvested without Rain


The beaches were strewn with wrecks and the bodies of "unfortunates" from Wells to Yarmouth after a great gale on 2nd November. During another gale on the 10th, Captain Manby's life-saving apparatus saved 18 seamen.



January of 1811 saw the Thames freeze, once again!


Another hot May. and the whole spring, summer, and autumn very warm


Cost of wheat: 86s


Gowing’s Diary, 31 July

: “Many farmers began harvest last Sunday, 29th. Some before.”


Cost of wheat: 114s

1813 May 5

On Sunday last a storm was so great at Gt Waldingfield  that a poor woman named Goddard was killed and her husband lies  speechless from the same cause.


Cost of wheat: 90s. Abundant harvest. “Finest harvest ever known”.


The tidal stretch of the Thames froze for the last time, the old London Bridge was removed, and other factors helped increase the rivers flow, preventing ice forming again.  A frost fair was held on the Thames, possibly the last 'great' one. The frost began in late December, approaching the new year. Thick fog came with the frost, as was common in London at the time. Probably one of the snowiest winters in the last 300 years


After the " hard winter." a very warm April, and cold May.


Cost of wheat: 68s


A continued fineness and warmth from February to October, and on the 31st March, thermometer. 74 1/2 deg. (23.6 c)


Cost of wheat: 92s

1816 May 12th,

a very great fall of snow.


Known as the year without summer, snow fell very late on, and the summer never recovered. The winter proceeding it was severe. A volcanic eruption (Tambora: East Indies) disrupted wind patterns and temperatures greatly, affecting the track of depressions, which tracked further South than usual, and making the UK very cold an wet for the summer and beyond. Scotland was drier though, an obvious sign that the depressions changed track. In September the Thames had frozen! Snow drifts remained on hills until late July!


16th Feb

A high tide at Yarmouth.  The Denes and the west side of the haven were inundated.  A similar occurrence had not been recorded since 1791. A flood also took place at Lynn.


Cost of wheat: 80s


Great falls of rain from the beginning of March to May 16th. On the morning of April 12th, the floods so great as to destroy the old " Stoke bridge," Ipswich. A hot and dry summer was the sequel.  No rain from May 16th to Sept. 5.


A south-easterly gale blew out a window at the church of Pulham St Mary on 4th March. December was remarkably mild and, it was reported, the cuckoo was heard.


Three hot weeks in May, succeeded by a severe frost on Whitsunday morning, the 30th, by which the ash buds, kidney beans, and potato tops were partially destroyed. Another hot and dry summer followed.


Severe winter. -23c was recorded at Tunbridge Wells, although no details of exposure are evident.

1820 Jan 15th

Very severe weather set in.The thermometer fell to seven degrees. A rapid thaw took place on the 18th, and a flood ensued.

1820 March 16th

severe storm and extensive damage to the Marshland area, North Lynn

1829 March 1st

A severe storm and high flood occurred in the Lynn district.  A large number of vessels were stranded on the Norfolk coast.


Cost of wheat: 66s. Uniformly fine harvest


April 23rd to 28th very hot, even like summer; but in the third week of May sleet and frost.


Late May saw snow in London, probably the latest snowfall there until 2nd June 1975.


Cost of wheat: 60s. Abundant crops, precarious harvest

1821 Nov 16.


A severe storm took place.  The roads were in many parts of the county rendered impassable by the heavy rains, and the marshes and low grounds were flooded


. A very warm and early season.   On May 6th a deluging thunder storm over Fakenham, Stowlangtoft, etc; a waterspout descended, and the flood burst over banks and hedges, and beat down brick walls

1822: 22 June:

The continued drought has produced a very material & extensive effect upon the light lands... the growing crops, particularly of soft corn are considerably injured. From the Barley districts of Norfolk and we fear there is no great chance, even if we should have following showers of there being an average produce for the present year. Upon the stronger lands the joint effect of heat and drought are very visible, and the crops of beans and peas are likely to prove exceedingly light and defective.


Average price of corn: Wheat 44-7; Barley 15-10: Oats 17-5

1822: 29 June:

On Sunday last about ten in the morning a storm came up which was felt with great severity in the county. At Herringswell near Mildenhall a distressing calamity occurred - A flock of sheep had taken shelter under a tree, and one vivid flash of lightning killed no less than 87 of them.

The horses in the Telegraph Day Coach were so terrified by the lightning that between Thetford and Newmarket they took fright and ran for five miles notwithstanding the exertions of the coachman, who was fortunately enabled to keep to the road so that no accident occurred.


Cost of wheat: 42s Harvest unusually early & fine [around Beccles]


Severe winter, ice on the Thames by late December. February 8th saw a great snowstorm in Northern England. People had to tunnel through the snow.


January: The weather having this week exceeded in coldness any since January 1820.



A cold season till the close of April.  On May 2nd it became very hot, yet on the 4th night a frost; again on the 7th the heat returned and increased, so that the thermometer stood at 82 deg.  (27.7 C) the highest for that year, and at Midsummer we needed fires in our rooms!


Cost of wheat: 46s. Early harvest showery and precarious, fine last fortnight


Cost of wheat: 58s. No rain during harvest


April 12th, Acton spire destroyed by lightning in a storm of snow!
May 2nd to the 5th, and on 14th, 15th, and 16th continuous rain and floods. Great damage by it on the gardens near the Thames, on the Surrey bank.
December 29th During a severe gale on Monday se'nnight the windmill belonging to Mr Osborne of Sible Hedingham was blown down, the miller had a providential escape, he was in the upper floor observing the danger at the instant the mill blew down, he slid down the sack rope into the roundhouse, the mill crashing around him.


Great heat April 6th; snow on 25th, but on 30th intense summer heat.

1825 Feb 10th


An exceptionally high tide occurred at Yarmouth.  The river overflowed and flooded cellars, stables, granaries, and other buildings on the Quay; and the Southtown Road from the Bear Inn, near the bridge to Gorleston was completely under water, in places to the depth of three feet.  At Cromer great damage was done to the cliffs.

1825 June 1st

On Saturday afternoon a violent thunderstorm struck the Sudbury area, it  struck a young man named Dixey who was in a field with a hoe on his  shoulder at Bulmer, the hoe attracted the lightning which passed down his  side and his shoe which had nails in it was torn from his foot, he was  killed instantly.


Cost of wheat: 64s. Early precarious, fine later


Snow fell in October in London. A very windy time, with gales doing damage.


Ice on the Thames.


Cost of wheat: 58s. Weather uninterruptedly fine, Summer drought


Cost of wheat: 59s. Weather on whole favourable.

1827 August 22

On Wednesday, between 10 and 11 the inhabitants of  Sudbury were visited by several thunderstorms, a flash of electric fluid  was attracted by the scythe of a labourer who with others was working in  a barley field ar Middleton Hall near Sudbury, it knocked him down and  gave a great shock to others near him but fortunately no injuries


A heavy snowfall on 15th January led to the demise of hundreds of rabbits in the Thetford and Brandon district through being out in search of food and unable to find their burrows again

JULY 4th

A severe storm occurred in the Dereham, Fakenham, and Cromer districts.  Unsettled weather prevailed until the 13th, when the lower parts of Norwich and the meadows and marshes above and below the city were flooded.  Much meadow hay was swept away, and the grain crops beaten down.

1828 July 23rd


After a terrific storm at Sudbury, the hay cocks were  immersed in water to a considerable height by the overflowing of the  river Stour, a barge was needed to remove the hay carried down to the  bridge in order to prevent the arches being choked

1828 July 30th

The recent storms along the course of the river Stour from Clare to  Manningtree has cleared not less than 200 acres of hay washed away as  clear as it had been carted


Cost of wheat: 46s. Early promise. Subsequently to the first week in July the season was the most extraordinary ever remembered. Not a day passed without rain and frequently it came down in such torrents as to large quantities of soil from the hills into the valleys and to lay all the low grounds completely under water. But crop was very abundant.


A cold year. Continuous frost throughout January. The summer was wet, and quite cold. Over an inch of snow fell in early October, although where isn't certain, most likely to be London. 6 inches fell in London and the South in late November. Northerly and Easterly gales damaged ships, and lost some.



Severe winter. Continuous frost from the 23rd to 31st December, 12th to 19th January, and 31st January to 6th February. Ice on the Thames from late December to late January. Some places completely blocked. 25th December 1830 was cold, with -12c recorded in Greenwich


Diary of W Scarfe 10 Jan

SNOW: A deep snow fell, it snowed for 5 days. It began to thaw the 5th night.


A great frost commenced on Christmas Eve and was so severe that, in just 48 hours, mill streams and rivers became frozen solid and navigation between Norwich and Yarmouth was obstructed by ice.


Sunday, May 13th, snow four inches deep.


 After thirteen wet weeks a very hot and dry May, thermometer from 80 to 85 deg. (26.6-29.5 c) on several days, and some pigs at Botesdale fair died from the heat of the solar rays on 16th.


An assembly place for astronomical observations was struck by lightning during a severe thunderstorm at Butters Hill, Norwich. The Black Tower was, according to an eye witness, set alight by a fireball the size of a man's head. It consumed the thatched roof and destroyed valuable apparatus.


Diary of W Scarfe 21 Jul

HARVEST: Began Harvest for Mr John Scarfe on 21 July. It was a beautiful fine Harvest, but lasted but a little time


 Good Friday, April 17th, sharp frost and deep snow.


Diary of W Scarfe 14 Aug

HARVEST: Began August 10 finished 22nd.



Severe blizzards and drifting snow during last week. Newmarket Heath had to be cleared before the race-horses could run.


A great Christmas blizzard.


Great fall of snow at Easter, April 1st. 2nd, and 3rd


October, snow reached depths of 5-6 inches, very unusual.

1836 25th December

roads impassable, snow depths reached  5-15 feet in many places, and most astonishingly, drifts of 20-50 feet. Christmas Day was ushered in with snowstorms and hailstorms, thunder,and lightning.  On the 26th the roads were rendered almost impassable by the drifting snow, which, in some localities, was from ten to twelve feet deep.  Soon all vehicular traffic was stopped.  The Ipswich mail coach, which should have arrived at Norwich on Christmas Day, did not reach the city until eleven o’clock on the night of the 29th.  It was detained at Thwaite Duke’s Head, whence the letter bags were despatched in the charge f mounted messengers.  One of the passengers, Capt. Petre, undertook to  walk to Norwich, a distance of twenty-eight miles; he arrived in the city on the 28th, and thence proceeded on his journey to Westwick House.  The Newmarket mail could get no further than Bury St. Edmund’s, and all other public vehicles were delayed.  On the Dereham, Fakenham, and other turnpikes gangs of labourers were employed to remove the snowdrifts. There were many shipping casualties on the Norfolk coast.  Such severe weather had not been experienced since 1799.  The thaw commenced in the middle of January, 1837, and high floods occurred in the neighbourhood of Norwich and in other localities.


Severe cold weather all the spring ;  sharpest frost after the Equinox, and on Easter Sunday evening, March 26th, snow to the depth of 18 inches in two hours.


severe frost of January 1838 (a 2 month frosty period set in with a light SE wind & fine day with hoar frost on the 7th (or 8th) January)


A furious squall on 24th February, 1837 drove the Ruby Castle, bound from London to Stockton, onto the beach at Salthouse, near Sheringham and she became a total wreck. She had a rich cargo; spirits, wine, oranges, nuts, hampers and toys bestrewed the beach. There was wholesome plunder with one group pouring spirits over each other in drunken revelry. Even coast guards, assigned to guard the wreck, became intoxicated and many were conveyed from the beach dead drunk. Of the £5,000 worth of cargo only £800 was recovered.


Diary of W Scarfe 14 Aug

HARVEST: Began Harvest at Hefset the day before Felsham Fair, Finished 16 September.

1838: 20th January

temperatures as low as -16c in London, accepted as the coldest recorded here of the 19th century. -20 recorded at Blackheath, and -26c at Beckenham, Kent. The temperature at Greenwich was -11c at midday

 The Thames froze over.

1838: 13th October

, Snow showers  in London and the South.


A tempest struck the great oak at Necton and felled two branches, the size of ordinary trees. At Carbrooke, a windmill was wrecked and a man killed. On 1 lth October, a severe gale saw 2,000 ships seeking refuge in the Yarmouth Roads and so much food was needed for the sustenance of the sailors that butchers were obliged to kill every bullock and sheep that they could find.


During an unusual winter storm on 21st January a woman was struck by lightning at Carlton Road, near Attleborough and her clothes set on fire.


Great heat in April, thermometer 80 deg. (26.6) on 26th.


The thermometer in January fell to zero degrees on the old scale at Norwich and fowls, under cover, were frozen to death. The month ended remarkably warm and brilliant

1841 January 19

In consequence of the rapid thaw and rain we have had  yesterday we experienced the highest floods we can remember at  Sudbury, owing to the strength of the current bringing down large pieces  of ice, fears were entertained for the safety of the bridges etc, which  although struck with great violence no serious damage was done, the water  rose so high opposite All Saints Church and in Cross Street and  Ballingdon that foot passengers were subject to a wetting and the  roaring of the waters as it passed between the piles of Ballingdon  bridge was so great it could be heard at a considerable distance, the 1st  floors of several houses in Ballingdon were flooded.

1841 February

the cold came back with a vengeance and by 3rd February, navigation was stopped by ice at King's Lynn.


Great heat in April, 27th, a very hot May also.

1842 July 14th

A severe thunderstorm occurred at Norwich after a period of very sultry weather.  “Almost immediately after the tempest a cloud of immense magnitude and extreme density, having the appearance of a mass of snow, passed over the city.  Drifting with a strong westerly wind it was so low as to envelope a considerable portion of the Cathedral spire.  Its passage was attended with a very curious phenomenon.  The current of the river, which had previously been sluggish, suddenly became very rapid, as if propelled by the irruption of some mighty flood.  This acceleration lasted about ten minutes, the cloud having once passed over, the stream gradually resumed its former rate of progression.


On 16th June "the sun was surrounded by a bright and beautiful halo with several others appearing in the vicinity". A whirlwind occurred at Blakeney on 8th July.

1843 August

On the 9th a thunderstorm of reputedly unprecedented violence struck the Cam­bridge area. Hailstones "as large as ordinary walnuts"; hundreds of birds killed and much damage to fruit and crops.


A very hot and dry April, thermometer near 80 deg. (26.6 c) on 26th.


Intense frost and snow to the Equinox. Thermometer 5 deg. on March 14th A warm April, but a dark, wet, and cold May.


A warm and early season like 1779, followed by the "notably hot summer."


A hot summer. On 4th July the heat was so great that ironwork on the Swing Bridge at Trowse expanded, preventing it opening for river traffic.


Cold and dry to April 25th ; a very hot May, and thermometer on 28th, 87 1/2 deg. July and August also very hot and dry.

1848  December 27

The flood gates at Brundon Hall were washed away owing to the heavy   rains, damage is computed to be at #500


March ended and April began very hot, but snow on April 10th. May was very hot and dry; thermometer on several days above 80 deg. (26.6 c) A wet June and August.

1849: April,

great snowstorm hit Southern England. Coaches buried in drifts. Notably late snowfall.


A mild, sunny, and lovely February, and dry March: very few frosts this spring, compared with other years ; but on April 18th the degree of frost was unusual, and did more injury than several nights would of common severity. May 4th, thermometer 74 deg. ; but since the 8th we have bad great rains, and severe thunder storms.

1850 January 30

Coals at Sudbury yards are getting scarce in our coal yards from the long and continued frosts and the high floods which for the last two months nearly put a stop to navigation on our river

1851 July

A great deal of damage was caused and glass broken by hail stones from  the storm at Lyston Gardens.

1853 April 1st

England and Wales suffer Minor earthquake

1855: 17 Feb:

Severe weather. Whole of marshes an entire field of ice-skating and sliding.

1855: 12th July,

The Free Press and General Advertiser for West Suffolk and North Essex,

On Monday the 16th about four o’clock in the afternoon, Lavenham was visited by one of the most severe thunder storms ever remembered. At the instant of one mighty crash the electric fluid struck a dwelling house, formerly known as the Guildhall in the Market Place and after shattering one side of the chimney, it descended to the roof where it directed in stripping off a quantity of tiles on both sides of the house, one current continued on the outside shattering the frames of the windows and then passing into the ground. The other, apparently a much stronger current, appears to have descended in a more direct manner having wrenched the casings of the doorway from their position; the door post, a piece of solid oak was divided from top to bottom and the pieces thrown into the passage, through which the wife of the occupier, J Ranson was passing when she was violently whirled about and thrown down by the concussion, but we are happy to say, not much injured. The rain and hail (of enormous size) poured down in torrents tearing up the roads in some places a foot deep and for a time converting them to rivers and many of the houses have flooded.


Beccles Wkly News 27 Oct

WEATHER: FLOODS in Beccles in St Anns Rd. Fenn's house flooded. Complete building by St Ann's Bridge washed away

1857 October 29

A heavy fall of rain last week flooded some houses in the vicinity of the Chapel with several inches of water in them.

1859 June 4

At Ballingdon  an extraordinary phenomena was witnessed in the shape of a fireball during a violent  thunderstorm  A blacksmith named King Viall was standing with his brother at the door of his house shortly before 10 o' clock on Sunday evening when immediately after a clap of thunder there was an extremely vivid flash of lightning, they observed what appeared to be a fire ball fall from a cloud and descend within two yards in front of them which burst presenting the appearance of a magnificent firework

 The smoke had a smell of brimstone, Mr Viall's brother was unable to see for three minutes.

1859 December 31

The floods which prevailed extensively in the neighbourhood of Poslingford in the early part of the week have caused considerable damage to the new bridge now being in the course of erection in  Poslingford.   A large quantity of material was carried some distance down the river .


There was a devastating gale across Norfolk on 28th May, 1860. Twenty vessels belonging to Yarmouth and Lowestoft were lost and 200 men and boys drowned, leaving 240 women and children in destitution. On land some 1,500 trees were levelled at Blickling and the windows of Cromer Church blown in. Christmas 1860 was one of the coldest on record. The mercury fell at Costessey to 39 degrees Fahrenheit below that at which water freezes.

1860: February

Sunday 19th February, Melford, 4.00 pm – a violent hurricane accompanied by hail. The Congregational Chapel wall was blown down and the roof and vestry damaged.


Severe weather with 12 inches of snow on 6th January. The mayor of Norwich inaugurated a fund to relieve the distress of the poor. At Breydon a large party assembled on the ice and "skated" quadrilles.

1861 January 8

There were disastrous floods at Sicklesmere from the melting snow and  heavy rain, the lower rooms of many houses were under water. At the house of Mr Major it nearly reached the ovens and a batch of bread already to be baked and other goods were destroyed.  The highway from the Tollgate to Stanningfield was impassable, many houses near Stanningfield Green also flooded, a number of footbridges were washed away. Several cottages between Welnetham and Bradfield were under water and the road  near the Bennet Arms at Rougham, Hawstead Wash at Nowton was flooded  deeply.


A gale of unusual violence on 2nd December left hardly a house in Norwich undamaged. Off the coast 142 men and boys were drowned.


Beccles Wkly Nws 8 Dec

WEATHER GALE, blew down Mr Lenny’s tall Chimney, although braced with iron, destroyed adjacent buildings. Roof of Mr Sayer’s House in Ballygate [No 15 Ballygate] considerably injured & also that in Saltgate occupied by Mr Bagshaw. One of the Front Windows in Mrs Clarke’s House in Ballygate [29 Ballygate] was smashed. Many people were lifted off their feet by the violence of the storm. Five men taking shelter on the east side of the new Granary of Mr John Crisp, junior near the Railway Station, the wall on the East Side gave way, barley & bricks fell on the men. Charles Oxborough was killed.


Cost of wheat: 44s

 1864  May 24

On Friday evening a terrific thunder storm struck Sudbury, At Alphampstone, Essex, a lightning flash struck a straw stack and destroyed  it on Mr Battle's farm. He is a farmer and malster, the buildings were      also destroyed together with two cows and one horse, the farmhouse only  escaped, 100 coombs of malt were also consumed. A tree at the rectory at Borley was struck and shattered to pieces by the electric fluid.


Beccles Wkly Nws 12 Jan

WEATHER: The River Waveney for the last week has been entirely frozen over. This has not occurred since the Winter of 1860-1861. While this has put a stop to the trade of the Port & thrown out of employment those who earn a livelihood by navigating the stream, it has also offered a fund of intense enjoyment to others who revel in the bracing exercise & delightful sport of skating. During the whole week the river was literally crowded with people ... each day the sport was continued until dusk, & in the evening those who were prevented by business from skating at more seasonable times, turned night into day by torches, & sped along the ice with equal safety.


Beccles Paper

VIOLENT STORM in Beccles, 29 August, Peddar’s Lane flooded to depth of 3ft & the silk operatives had to be carried on the stokers’ backs through the water to the factory.

The lower part of the town, from the embankment in Ingate [Grove] Road & reaching the burial ground in Blyburgate was one mass of water to the depth of about four feet, and several families had to be removed in carts from their dwellings.

The Storm continued from 3pm to 5pm on Thursday, the worst known for 80 years.

Water went through Mr Fenn’s house and grounds, and destroyed all growing crops, vineries, lawn and flower garden.


Fine long Summer, 10 October, intense heat, continued drought, will be remembered for many years.


A slight earthquake was felt from Scratby to Lowestoft.


Bures Flood
Such a flood as occurred here on Sunday has not been known in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. The street was completely overflowed and pedestrians found considerable difficulty in making their way to the station and other parts.

1866 June 5

During a severe storm a poor woman named Matilda Trudgett aged 70, wife of Edward Trudgett, a bedridden man of 78 was killed by lightning in the  village of Troston

1866 17th Nov

20 deaths in Leeds due to flooding after torrential rain


A new gasholder of 100,000 feet capacity and surrounded by massive iron columns was blown over at Yarmouth during a gale. The year ended with a heavy snowstorm and many roads in East Anglia were impassable.

1866 Dec.20th.

A large drain that carries water under the street at  Foxearth, burst on Thurs. evening during a heavy storm, near Mr.Gardiner's gate, the water pushing along the street making it impassable. In the  evening the water subsided, during the heighth some cottages opposite  the school were flooded


Beccles Wkly 22 Jan

WEATHER: Very large downfall of snow. Waveney Valley Train left Tivetshall at 1.10 pm on Wednesday - entirely stopped till Friday. On Thursday 8.57 am from Ipswich did not arrive until 8.30 pm.


Beccles Wkly 22 Jan

COUNCIL: THE POOR: Measures for providing Relief for the Poor during the present severe & inclement weather. Mayor had been informed there was considerable distress in the Town.

Mr Fenn said 48 men emloyed clearing snow. Subscriptions opened & £100 subscribed before the Meeting closed. Raised to £181 by House to House collection. 1,000 Tickets given for Flour, Bread & Grocery.

100 men to carry away snow paid 2s 8d a day. About 20 men refused to work.

6 October 1868

East Suffolk Gazette

A thunder and hail storm of extreme violence passed over the northern part of Norfolk on Sunday last. Dr SUMPTER, writing from Cley-next-the Sea, says: - One of the most, if not the most terrific hail-storm that ever happened, passed over this locality on Sunday morning. There is scarcely a window facing the south-west, where the storm came, but is literally smashed. I have scarcely a whole pane of glass in the front of my house, and my conservatory is demolished "in toto," the grapes being cut from their stalk, and the stalks from the tree. Great damage is done to fruit trees, and the vegetables and flowers are destroyed, out-door melons, marrows, and cucumbers being cut from their stalks as cleanly as if the gardener's knife had been at work with ruthless energy. In the turnip fields all the turnip tops are entirely stripped of their leaves and the very hedges and trees wear quite a wintery [sic] look, the petiole and midrib of every leaf being denuded of its covering. The large window of our church, the architectural beauty of which has been so much admired, was demolished in a moment, an eye witness inside the church telling me that the broken glass, mingled with hailstones, came in like a white cloud. The hail storm was accompanied by a rushing wind, the awful violence of which was grand in the extreme. The rectory windows were shattered and Cley Hall has not escaped the general ruin. The Wesleyan Chapel adjoining my house is rendered unfit for public worship, sacks are obliged to be nailed across the sashes to keep the wind and weather out. The hail stones were of the most extraordinary size - one (not an agglomeration of many) measured three inches in circumference - most of the hailstones being the size of marbles. My man servant barrowed three loads of stones out of my back yard and kitchen. I am thankful to say no lives were lost, though several severe cuts from falling glass have come under my notice. Several partridges were killed, and I have no doubt much damage to the smaller feathered creation has been done......

1869 21st October

The storm of Tuesday shattered many trees in this parish. A fine weeping willow in the grounds of Pound Hall was blown down.

1869: 25th Nov

The effects of an earthquake felt on Saturday Night/Sunday morning at 12.03 on November 14th.

1869 Dec 16

Otten Belchamp.   On Monday evening at about 6 whilst the storm was raging two sails of the mill occupied by Mr Walter Sparrow were blown off completely and carried some yards distant and some of the "middlings" were broken in half.


Another cold Christmas. After a mild spell, the temperature plunged to 5F (-15C) on Christmas night.  There was a fall of deep snow.


A storm of great violence on 10th February led to the loss of many vessels and left no clue as to their names or ports to which they belonged. The storm petrel was seen.   Snow fell on 17th May.

1872 Nov

it was a  very stormy night with high winds


Amazingly snowy winter for the UK, especially the South East early on, the first week of December dumped 1-2ft in some places, worst in the South East. March of this month had many snowstorms, and April recorded nearly 2ft of snow in the Midlands! Snowfall was recorded (on a notable scale), in November, December, January, February, March, April, and May!

1875  July 6

The storm on Saturday was limited in Melford, in the  street in front of the Bull there was only a slight shower while over  the bridge on the Green and High Street the rain fell in torrents Persons standing in front of the Bull looked up towards the Green could  see the roadway a sheet of water while they did not get wet.

1875 July 6

On Saturday a severe thunderstorm passed over Clare, rain  fell for two hours flooding low lands and streets. Electric fluid struck a barn totally destroying it belonging to Mr H.Dennis at Chilton  Street, the farm house was saved owing to the favourable state of the  wind.

1875  July 27

The meadows at Sudbury were flooded and hay cocked on  Friars Meadow was carried downstream, on Wednesday, crews of both the boat  clubs who were training for the races on the Bank holiday, were able to  row across Ballingdon meadow to Mr Allen's house. The depth of the water  allowed full dip to the oars. Many fields of wheat and barley were  beaten down.


Owing to a wet November and a heavy fall of snow in early December which then melted, the Waveney Valley at Geldeston was deeply flooded. The lock-keeper had only a few square yards of dry land. On this he killed more than 100 rats and a great number of moles.

1875 November 16


Heavy rain on Wednesday night caused roads to flood around Hall Mill in Melford, the highest flooding seen since  1861. Meadows adjoining the Stour were covered with water and floods of water  from the small river rushing over the railway line from Cambridge caused  the earth to be washed away, exposing the sleepers, in consequence the 11  o' clock from Cambridge was stopped and the passengers were taken in a  small trolley over the inundated part. The navvies set to work and cut a  small trench to take the water away. At the Flax Mill (the old Paper  Mill) the water rushing over the banks carried away great quantity of  flax which was drying on the meadows


Beccles Paper 16 Nov

FLOODS for miles around. Mr Darby’s Timber Yard inundated, timber washed away miles down stream. Gillingham Dam flooded and 30 poplars beside the road destroyed.


2ft of Snow fell in Oxford in October. A ferocious blizzard raged in the North East in March. 10th June saw snow in Scotland, of 6 inches! 11th July reportedly saw snow in the South and East, Keswick saw snow above 1000ft.


A severe gale at sea on 30th January with many fishing boats lost. 112 seamen perished.


In the north, snow cover remained for 3 months! Snow recorded in November, December, January, February, March and April! Very snowy


A disastrous flood occurred in Norwich on 15th November from the combined effect of rapidly melting snow, heavy rain, gales and high tides. Hundreds of the city's inhabitants were forced to flee in boats and several lives were lost.

1878 Dec 31

There was some old fashioned weather for Christmas  at Sudbury, the intense frost gave opportunities to skaters and sliders  to pursue their pleasure. The meadows around the town and the reach (a  long stretch of water near Friars meadow) formed capital ice rinks and  were patronized by people of all classes. The North meadow was re- flooded by the mill owners of Brundon and Sudbury mills at the request  of the many young men and a capital ice sheet formed. It was intended to  play a game of cricket on the ice on Thursday but the thaw set in.

1879 July 1

During the severe storm at Clare, what is known as a  ‘dent’ fell on the Common and made a hole of considerable dimension in  the earth. There were some men working nearby but they luckily escaped.


Beccles Paper, 22 Jul

RAIN During last two days heavy rains. Floods in Ingate. Street near Black Boy impassable. 6 or 7 houses flooded with 2 or 3 feet of water. Swine’s Green road impassable with 3 feet of water. Water pours down from Darby’s brickyard and flooded 2 or 3 houses there. Bullock’s Lane in a terrible state. Hay damaged if not spoilt, several marshes under water. Wall at back of  Mr Parkhouse’s premises fallen


Beccles Paper, 22 Jul

RAIN: Archbishop’s letter. Prayer for favourable weather.


Beccles Paper, 29 Jul

DISASTROUS FLOODS: Such a flood never known before. Heavy  rains fell on Saturday night and for the next three days, almost without intermission. The Barsham marshes became a great lake. On Wednesday Gillingham dam completely covered. The only communication between Gillingham and Beccles was by boats charging 2d per head. Corporation Marshes covered with 2 or 3 feet of water.. Hay lost including 15 stacks. Yarmouth line flooded, ballast washed away.. On Wednesday the water was rising 1 ft in an hour at the Swing Bridge, whose pilot, Mr Harling had to accommodate his pigs in his own house until he could move them to safety. All his garden, including several thousand celery plants spoilt.. Mr Darby’s timber in the form of planks and logs floated away, while whole trees were carried long distances. His loss £200. None of his men were able to get to work last week. His house was flooded during Tuesday night with about 2ft of water. The water was still standing in the house on Friday night. Mr Johnson, one of his neighbours has to take refuge with his family in a yacht. The whole of Mr Crisp’s premises near the bridge were flooded. His men tried to empty the store and worked until ten o’clock, but 60 coombs of malt were flooded with several tons of cake. In Bridge Street all the houses up to Mr Rush’s were flooded, moving up to the bedrooms. Food & drink was handed in through the upper windows.. At the brewery casks floated around in all directions. At the Tannery work had to be suspended for three days, because the water put out the engine fires. One or two pits were flooded. The poor people who rely on their gardens for their harvest are much to be pitied, their gardens under water, only the tops of fruit bushes being seen. The fruit entirely spoilt. Worst flood for 60 years, the only approach to them was in July 1829, when a wherry sailed across the marshes to Gillingham. The Avenue & meadows were flooded.

On Saturday rail traffic was resumed between Beccles and Yarmouth and Lowestoft. By Sunday it was possible to cross Gillingham Dam. It is hoped to get the marshes drained of 2 million gallons of water in a fortnight.

At Sotterley 3.2 inches of rain fell in 46 hours. in the middle of the hay harvest.


Beccles Paper, 5 Aug

FLOODS: The pump near the Gas Works erected by Mr Elliott has now, with the mill, nearly cleared the water from the Marshes.


Beccles Paper, 5 Aug

The wind shaft and head wheel were broken by the fall; and the stock and sails descending upon the engine house made a complete wreck of it, though fortunately, the engine itself was not injured. The fly was so much smashed, and altogether the damage is of such a character that several months must elapse before the mill can again  be brought into working order.  Mr Pells estimates the damage between £400 and £500.


Beccles Paper, 5 Aug

THE POST MILL in Ingate Street, the property of the late Mr J Cooper, was wrecked in the same storm, and about the same time. Mr Finch and his wife were standing at their chamber window (some 20ft to the north-west of the mill) and saw the whole affair. The fly moved quite round, and the mill was blown backwards; then a flash of lightning appeared to strike it, and the sails fell, followed quickly by the wind-shaft, head and tail wheels, and the cap. The sails were completely splintered, and the pieces were blown about in all directions. The roof of the round house  was broken in by the falling timbers, and several adjoining houses were damaged. All the machinery that fell was more or less injured, while the head wheel was rendered quite useless. The mill is indeed a complete wreck.


Beccles Paper, 12 Aug

THE RIVER in bad state up to Saturday, when a fair tide somewhat improved its condition. The fish have greatly suffered, and the prospect of anglers have been wholly spoiled for a long time to come.Last week many fine eels turned up and large numbers were easily caught on the surface of the water.


Beccles Paper, 26 Aug

THUNDERSTORMS succession passed over Beccles. Rain fell copiously. Full force 5pm., when thunder & lightning were extremely severe, and the rain descended in torrents, flooding the streets. It continued until 9pm. At the Post Office both the telegraphic instruments were broken, and telegraphic communication was stopped until new machines arrived the next day.  Crops damaged again.


Beccles Paper, 2 Sep

HARVEST: commenced if the fine weather continues. Heavy rains of Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday compelled them to desist.


Beccles Paper, 30 Sep

HARVEST: But for the heavy rains in the early part of the week the harvest would have been drawing to a close. Worst yield for 40 years. Wheat is shrivelled & light & will not make 17 stone to the coomb. Straw plentiful; Barley of fair quality, but yield bad; Root crops bad; potatoes a failure.


Beccles Paper, 30 Sep

FLOODS: Heavy rains on Tuesday & Wednesday caused floods  again.


Beccles Paper, 9 Dec

WEATHER: Extreme severity - suffering to the aged and poor. Skating & sliding on the River.. By Saturday could skate to Oulton. On Monday a partial thaw set in.


Beccles Paper, 16 Dec

WEATHER: Partial thaws in the day, many degrees of frost at night. Crowds of skaters & sliders on the river. A large number of workmen have been thrown out of work. Trade is at present very slow on account of the reduced earnings of the working-class. Large quantities of wild fowl have been seen in the district; and a large number have been shot, including mallards, duck, teal and snipe. A bittern was shot on Bungay Common and is to be preserved. At present the roads are in a wretched condition.


A fearful storm on 2nd August destroyed Wells Church when it was struck by lightning. This was one of the coldest years of the 19th century.


The black year. Summer was wet from start to finish. Harvest still being gathered in October. By mid November severe weather set in.

1879 Aug to feb 1880

A ruinous season, assumed cold and wet for harvest, causing Great losses at North Lynn


Early snowfall! 6 inches of snow fell in October in London  In January, 3ft of level snow fell from East Devon to the Isle of Wight! There were 10ft drifts in Evesham, and Dartmoor recorded 4ft. Very Snowy


Cost of wheat: 50s.


The year of the great blizzard which began on 18th January with winds "assuming the strength of a hurricane". Road and rail communications came to a halt with 10 foot drifts. There was loss of life.

1881: Dec 24

Floods at Cavendish.  The parishioners in this village suffered on Sunday a great inconvenience caused by the floods on the road and several cottages being inundated, the water in some places was 3ft or 4ft deep, several occupants had to escape by means of a scaffold while others could not get out and had to have provisions taken by a man on horseback, the Congregational Chapel suffered from the effects that the service had to be held at the Lecture Hall,

1884:22 April

Severe earthquake on the 22nd centred near Colchester, Essex. Much damage in Essex and Suffolk.


Great heat was experienced on 1lth August — reaching 95F (35C) at Norwich.

1884   Bec & Bung 7 Jun)

In the surrounding countryside there was severe havoc. The parish church of Langenhoe was completely destroyed and at Fingringhoe also suffered considerably - but during repairs several old wall paintings were discovered. Some of the battlements of Peldon church fell on to the roof, others dropping into the churchyard, while an extensive fissure was caused in the base of the tower. At Wivenhoe damage to house property was estimated to £10,000.


Sudbury.  The town was much affected by the earthquake wave on Tuesday morning but happily we were spared the immense damage which devastated Wyvenhoe and Colchester.


Snow fell in October, November, December, January, February, March, April and May! London recorded 1ft of snow in7 hours in early January. In the North a blizzard dumped 2ft of snow widely, and in May the North of England got a heavy fall. Very Snowy


Considerable damage was caused to telephone wires in Norfolk by a heavy fall of snow on 28th December. "The whole system came to grief, it was reported, "through the wires breaking and the derricks giving way.

1887 Jan 25

A large number of the breakdown gang were engaged in  repairing the rail bridge at Rodbridge which was damaged by the heavy  floods. The centre of the bridge quite shifted from it's  position, happily it was discovered before an accident happened.


An extraordinary year with snow in July and a mild spell in early December. A correspondent wrote to The Times: "I am still supplied with green peas grown in my garden at Brundall, the roses are in flower, the fields abound in primroses and wild flowers". The cuckoo was said to have been heard at North Elmham and strawberries were gathered at Swainsthorpe on Christmas morning.

1888:17th June

From the Suffolk & Essex Free Press

The Tempest at Melford() On Tuesday the storm was unusually severe. Between six and seven o’clock in the morning volumes of rain poured down the wide street, which was soon covered in water. In the afternoon the second storm broke over the place with even more severity. The rain came down for half an hour in torrents, and the wide street was one sheet of water. In Bull Lane, just at the rear of the Bull Inn, the water stood in the road and up Back Lane flowing into the adjoining yards, and also flowed into the street, in a way that was never known before. A water pipe burst at Mr Thurston’s chemist and ran in an upper chamber, but not into the rooms and shop beneath, doing much damage. The road near Melford Place was rendered impassable for foot passers, the Water Lane close by flowing over. At the railway station the water flowed through the rooms to the platform and the line itself was one mass of water. The train was delayed a few minutes on account of the overflow from the water and silt from the road near Borley schools. Although the lightning was very sharp, we did not hear of any damage being done to anything on the estates near but mainly householders had a share of work to do by the water rushing in ground floor rooms.

1888: 1st August, 1888

– Glemsford/Clare Thunderstorm

Hail stones of a large size fell in such quantity that they could have been gathered up by the shovel full.

1888: , 8th August

From the Suffolk & Essex Free Press

Never within the memory of man has Chelmsford been visited by such an appalling flood as that which wrought havoc and destruction on all sides early on Tuesday morning. In the early hours of the morning hundreds of the inhabitants were literally afraid of being drowned in their houses. All the lower parts of the town were submerged to a depth of several feet in turbulent waters, the London-road iron bridge has been swept away; trees, articles of furniture, timber and debris of every sort has been whirled down stream and immense damage has been done to property. The loss of one man at Romford is reported, carried away by the water.

1890 July 23

Sudbury.  The storm on Thursday and Friday caused heavy flooding , the Common being covered with water and the footpath to Brundon was impassable, the new bank from the Croft bridge proved very effective in keeping in some of the water although at the Brundon end it needs widening and strengthening, North meadow was flooded and doing much damage to hay which are in cocks.

1890 July 29

The full force of a storm was felt at Cavendish last  week, ditches were unable to take the water quickly enough and houses  were flooded with the lower meadows like a sea, some hay was spoilt and  the after feed damaged by mud and filth, the roads in many places were  ruined.

1890 July 23rd

A storm broke over Clare on Thursday night with great severity, 3 ½ inches of rain was recorded in 12 hours.

Sudbury. The storm on Thursday and Friday caused heavy flooding here, the Common being covered with water and the footpath to Brundon was impassable, the new bank from the Croft bridge proved very effective in keeping in some of the water although at the Brundon end it needs widening and strengthening, North meadow was flooded and doing much damage to hay which are in cocks.


An intensely cold spell began in late November and continued throughout December. Skating became general. From 25th to 28th November, 16 inches of snow fell at Ipswich.


On 1st January the frost broke after 21 consecutive days, but began again the following night.   Gradually, milder weather returned and on


24th January the river steamer Alpha was able to cut her way through the ice on the Yare and open up the river traffic between Norwich and Yarmouth which had been suspended for five weeks. On 10th January

an "ice carnival" took place on Diss Mere and spectators numbered 5,000. At Whitsun there was a memorable snowstorm but on 13th May the mercury had been as high as 73F (23C). Four days later it had plunged to 37F (3C).


Beccles Paper 6 Jan

WEATHER: Exceptionally severe in December, the coldest on record. Much snow fell on 15th, 17th & 19th.-


Beccles Paper 6 Jan

FIRE AT THE STATION: Carpenters’ & Plumbers’ Shop (partly) burnt down. Fire Brigade hampered by passing trains, which required repeated disconnections. Owing to the bitterly cold weather the firemen were covered with icicles as they toiled. The tools of 3 carpenters: F Larke, H Youell & G Greaves greatly damaged.


Beccles Paper 13 Jan

THE DISTRESS AT BECCLES: Owing to the severe weather of the past seven weeks much distress exists amongst the poor. The Mayor convened a meeting: Minutes: Decided to employ men clearing snow, discover who was in real need and help them rather than the men who hung around the streets, were not hard working men. Committee to consider the situation.


Beccles Paper 20 Jan

WEATHER: Stoppage of Water & Gas supplies being frozen. Water is being supplied by men of the water company going the rounds from the Mains, which have not been affected


Beccles Paper 3 Feb

RELIEF COMMITTEE: The weather having changed it was decided to keep the fund intact (with about £50 in hand) until April, in case bad weather occurred again.


Beccles Paper 28 Jul

THUNDERSTORM on Sunday afternoon soon after 5 pm. Rain fell in torrents for nearly an hour, accompanied with hailstones as big as marbles. The streets were deluged, and many low-lying houses were flooded. In Ingate the water in one house  occupied by a widow named Smith, was level with the fireplace. The lightning was very severe.


On 21st October, Norfolk experienced a heavy fall of snow.

1893 Feb 28

The downpour of rain during Tuesday night caused one  of the largest floods seen in Clare for many years. Looking across from  the railway bridge the mill meadows have the appearance of a small lake  broken only by hedge and tree tops, at the junction of the Poslingford- Chilton road, the water is 2 to 3 feet deep.

1893 June

Suffolk Free Press Mr J.S.Gardiner of Borley writes to say he has been farming for fifty seven years and he has never known such a drought.

1893: April

Air temperature at Cambridge reached 83 degrees F.


A year of three severe gales. A snow-laden storm from the north-east during early January caused great hindrance to traffic and many casualties were reported on the coast. A few days later, on the 12th, a storm blew from the south-west and there were widespread casualties, particularly among the Yarmouth fishing fleet. In December, gales from the 21st to the 29th led to enormous tides. At Mundesley it was the largest ever known.


A severe cold spell in February, freezing the River Deben. There was much skating.

1897 January 30th


A young married woman named Ellen Chapman was found dead on the roadside between Saffron Walden and Chrishall on Saturday, deceased who had been shopping was returning home when she was caught in a snow storm and unable to walk on account of the terrible state of the roads, she sank down and died from exhaustion

1901 September

Over 3'/4 inches of rain within two hours at Fingringhoe, Essex, on the 11th.

1902 Jan

There was a meeting of the Brundon Skater’s Club with the object providing good skating for the coming season, through the kindness of Mr W.Nocton of Brundon the meadow will be flooded as in previous years to provide excellent and safe skating.

1902: July

Over 21/2 inches of rain within two hours at Ipswich on the 1st.

1903: August

The Rev H.F.Bull, rector of Borley said that on Sunday he was sitting in his study when the doors and windows were shaken and he believed he heard a rumbling sound, it was his belief it was due to an earthquake shock, the same sound was also heard in Sudbury.

1903 June 10

Sudbury like all low lying places has suffered from recent floods, all the meadows and roads adjoining have been flooded, quantities of hay have been washed away, Cellars flooded and water in houses. Haverhill flooded by torrential rain.

1906: 30th Dec

Air temperature dropped to 2 degrees F. at Woodbridge, Suffolk, on the 30th.

1909 Dec 15

The highway near Glemsford Station was washed away by the recent floods,

1911: July 27th

Considerable damage was caused to roads by a storm in  the parishes of Borley, Liston, Foxearth, Bulmer and Walter Belchamp. The  surveyor said he had four extra men engaged on the roads. 2.1 inches of  rain was recorded at Sudbury water works in three quarters of an hour

1911: July


Air temperature    at    Cambridge reached 96 degrees F. 1,942 hours of sunshine recorded in Ipswich during the whole year. A temperature of 36C (96F) was recorded in Bury St Edmunds

1912 : August

7½ inches of rain on the 25th/26th turned Norwich into "a miniature Venice".     


Monday 26th when torrential rains and a hurricane swept over East. In the space of 36 hours upwards of four inches of rain was measured at the Larches... The battered appearance of the Parish Church tower provided good evidence of the fury of the elements. Large pieces of the stonework had been flaked off by the driving rain.


From Eugene Ulph’s Scrapbook 1962-64 in Beccles Museum. August 1962

Waveney Valley Floods of August 1912

Torrential rain  accompanied by a severe hurricane left scenes of flooding and desolation. The strong wind and heavy rain played havoc with trees, orchards and houses on the higher ground. In 36 hours four inches of rain fell at Beccles. Weeks of wet days with only occasional sunshine culminated in a deluge in the last weekend of August. However towards the end of Sunday there seemed to be a promise of better things. On the contrary, the next day brought terrific wind and more rain and on the Tuesday morning the extent of the widespread damage was fully apparent.

Slates and tiles strewed the roads, tall trees were on the ground and fruit trees were stripped of their crops. chimney stacks were either on the ground or resting on neighbouring properties. Right in the middle of the town there was special evidence of the force of the storm in the battered appearance of the detached tower of the Parish Church. Large portions of stonework had been forced off by wind and rain.

The Waveney burst its banks, and miles of marshland on both sides of the town resembled a vast inland sea. The Gillingham Marshes were often flooded during the winter months, but this time water also lay to a great depth on those belonging to the Corporation.

Railway communication on the Waveney Valley Line between Beccles and Bungay was impossible as the track across Gillingham marshes was washed away for some distance. It was not long before the rising waters on the Corporation level brought services along the Yarmouth and Lowestoft lines to a standstill.

Swirling expanses of water cut off the town from the west, north and east. Even the south was affected, for from the higher ground towards Weston water rushed through Swine’s Green and along St Anne’s Road, causing flooding at Ingate Street. The medieval St Anne’s River was in existence once again. Its swollen waters contributed to those rapidly rising on the College and Caxton football grounds at the railway end of the Avenue.

Scene of desolation. There was a scene of desolation in the Avenue, as elsewhere, as many trees had been blown down and the roadway was submerged to a depth of nearly a foot. It was very difficult to get to the Common, both lanes also being flooded.

Allotment holders in that part of the town suffered greatly as the preceding weather had delayed the harvesting of crops. When the water eventually receded, tenants found their plots in a deplorable state through the overflowing of sewage. Pumping at the Common Lane sewage station stopped on the Tuesday and could not be restarted for several days. In the meantime there was an awful accumulation in the sewers, causing a lot of concern to the authorities.

House flooding was particularly serious in the vicinity of the river. Many properties suffered at Bridge Street, Fen Lane, Thurlow’s Yard and Puddingmoor. There was a loss too at industrial undertakings. The timber yards and saw mills of Darby Bros. just on the Gillingham side of Beccles Bridge, were completely submerged. On the Beccles bank the tannery at Northgate was badly hit. Work was suspended for almost a week through the yards being inundated, the pits flooded and the water level reaching the fire bars of the engine.

Messrs Smith & Eastaugh lost a quantity of malt from their premises at the Score. Several tons of salt were dissolved when the water reached their store at the Staithe. The Northgate boat-sheds of George Wright were flooded. Mr Wright pointed out marks made on his buildings during a big inundation in 1879. Their height however was exceeded by eight or nine inches this time.

Bullocks Rescued.

Being summertime there were plenty of cattle on the marshes bordering the Waveney on the Gillingham side of the town. When on Monday evening water was creeping up an effort was made by marsh-men to remove a batch of five store beasts to safety. Despite their persistent efforts the bullocks refused to budge and, finally had to be left to their fate.

Next morning a photographer, Mr A. Leyneek, of Station Road, happened to see the animals floundering about while he was gazing at the flooded marshes from the churchyard wall. Braving the danger caused by wind and swiftly flowing water, he borrowed a rowing boat and set out towards the animals in the hope that he could attract them to safety. After a great deal of patient effort he got them to swim towards the town side of the river. Eventually they were hauled ashore by a band of willing helpers at the Puddingmoor boatyard of Mr Herbert Hipperson.

Wheat and barley standing in sheaves in the fields between Harleston and Bungay was washed away by the rising waters. Bungay itself was almost surrounded. Moving over Earsham Dam like a huge river, the flood washed away the embankment of the railway and the ballast from the track. The same thing happened on the Ditchingham side of Bungay station.

Some animals were drowned.

1913: 18th June

Suffolk and Essex Free Press

The Storm: At Lavenham during the morning, a storm seemed imminent and  at about 11.30 it suddenly appeared over Lavenham coming from the southwest. Thew thunder and lightening was severe and rain and hail fell in torrents for over half an hour . The hailstones were as large as marbles. Several of the cottages were flooded, the water rushing in at the back doors and out of the fronts into the streets. Water street was, for an hour, quite a river, the road being completely covered up to a depth of six inches.

1917: 2 April

Minimum air temperature at Norwich on the 2nd fell to 17 degrees F. — on the grass, 6 degrees F.

1917:August 8

A terrific storm burst over Bulmer on Sunday last with  2 inches of rain in two hours, corn which was shocked was severely  damaged especially the oats. At Lower Houses, two cottages were flooded  to a depth of 3 feet, the inhabitants having to take refuge in the  bedrooms. Upper Houses was entirely cut off and they had to be taken  through the floods by Albert Rowe with a horse and cart. G.English of  Hole Farm, saved his pigs with difficulty, during the past week they have  had 5 inches of rain.

Bulmer.   After six days of incessant rain a terrible thunderstorm brought 2 inches of rain in two hours into Bulmer, the corn (mostly oats) had been shocked, was severely damaged, several cottages at Lower Houses were flooded to a depth of 3 feet, the inhabitants had to seek refuge in their bedrooms, gardens were ruined, mangolds in great numbers were washed down roads and deposited in hedges, the inhabitants of Upper Houses were entirely cut off and were eventually taken through the floods by Mr Albert Rowe with a horse and cart, Mr English of Hole Farm saved his pigs and poultry with great difficulty, during this last week 5 inches of rain has fallen in the parish or 500 tons per acre.

1918 January 23

With the rapid thaw and recent heavy rains, the village of Borley has experienced the most extensive flooding for 30 years.So great was the rush of water beween the gatehouse and the Rodbridge corner on Saturday that it washed the ballast from under the metals, making the line unsuitable for service. The Cambridge to Sudbury train ran as far as Borley crossing, the passengers having to walk over the broken part and over the flood, where another train waited to take them to Sudbury

1919:27 April

On the 27th heavy snow to a depth of eighteen inches in Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

1919: May 7th

The heavy snow storm on Sunday evening caused serious damage in Glemsford, telephone wires are down, roofs and guttering suffered a lot of damage and  several houses were damaged, water on the meadows  near the site of Foxearth Mill site has not been so high for some years.


The driest year of the century in East Anglia. Norwich recorded almost 1,800 hours of sunshine.

1924: August 7th

During a fierce thunder storm a house at Pentlow was  struck by lighting. It was in a row opposite the school and occupied by  a man named Suttle. The lighting knocked a hole in the roof and the  upstairs ceiling, there were several people in the house and although  frightened, they were unhurt

1928: January 5

The flood at Rodbridge effectively cut off Foxearth  from Sudbury for motorists, although horses could get through with difficulty, the water being 3ft 6in deep

1931: 7 Jun

Bec & Bung(1941)

MEMORY of EARTHQUAKE TEN YEARS AGO on 7 June 1931. The tremor occurred at half past one in the morning and lasted for 15 to 20 seconds and there were few people who were not awakened. At Beccles several doorbells were set ringing and many people went into the streets to see what had happened. A confectioner who opened his lock-up shop some hours later found the boxes of chocolate and tins of toffee had been shaken to the floor & a number of bottles of mineral waters smashed. In the country those living in old cottages heard rafters creaking and cracking during the tremor, while cock pheasants in the fields added their protests.

Lowestoft was the only place in this locality where damage resulted, several chimneys including one stack of twelve, collapsed. At Kew the tremors were described as the biggest earthquake ever recorded in this country. Very severe thunderstorms occurred in East Anglia prior to the earthquake, which were preceded immediately by an uncanny stillness. In Beccles area there was torrential rain during the Saturday evening, and serious damage to growing crops was caused.


Air temperature on the 19th reached 97 degrees F. at Halstead, Essex, and 95 degrees F. at Norwich.


Norwich, Norfolk, enjoyed 706 hours of sunshine between June and August, averaging at almost 8 hours of sunshine a day!

1938: 5 Nov

Air temperature reached 70 degrees F. at Cambridge and Mildenhall on the 5th.


Places Where they Sing

AUTOBIOGRAHY by Lionel Dakers: The winter of 1939/1940 was an exceptionally harsh one, so much so that each day we had to plod our way on foot through the snow three or four miles each way to Shipmeadow [from Beccles] for lessons in a rambling, cold, and disused workhouse which was our school

1940: 4 June

One veteran describes Dunkirk as a "shambolic disaster" and it seems certain that in fact, it could have been little more than this had the weather not been as good as it was. The majority of Little Ships simply were not built for Channel crossings. Many of them were used for nothing more than pottering around the Thames and even some of the larger, more seaworthy craft had only been intended for such trips as a day sail to the Isle of Wight and back.

Without the high pressure it is doubtful whether many of these vessels would attempt a visit to France and weighed down to overflowing with troops in 1940 it was a most hazardous crossing. As Admiral Ramsay, mastermind of the Operation, later reported "It must be fully realised that a wind of any strength in the northern sector between the southwest and northeast would have made beach evacuation impossible. At no time did this happen".

1941: July

Nearly 4 inches of rain within two hours at Writtle, Essex, on the 26th.

1944: 6 June

The D-Day invasion of Nor­mandy by Allied Forces, with a fleet of ove|r 4,000 vessels, jeopardised by very strong north-westerly winds.

1946: July

Severe hailstorms in West Suffolk, causing much damage to crops.

1947: March

Continuing one of the most severe winters of the century, snow re­mained lying during the first 13 days, with maximum air temperature at Rushmere St Andrew remaining below freezing point for two successive days.

1947: Feb

Minimum air temperature of minus 5 degrees F. at Writtle, Essex.

1947: 31 May

air temperature reached 89 degrees F. at Mildenhall

1947:July 3rd

A storm of unusual severity broke out over the Sudbury  district at about 2 pm on Friday. Perhaps the worst result of the storm  locally was the destruction of the lofty spire of Foxearth parish  church. It is thought that the spire was struck by lightning and the  wind blew the wreckage into the adjoining field, the tower was also  damaged. Here as elsewhere, trees were blown down and the rectory and  brewery houses were damaged, also other property in the village

(The storm) In lower Cavendish not a single house escaped  damage, the Memorial Hall sustained considerable damage when a chimney  stack was wrenched off. The roof of the Congregational Church was  partially carried away, also the chimney stack. Most of the Manse windows  were shattered. Blacklands Park avenue which is regarded by the  villagers as a favourite walk is no longer an avenue, on one side nearly  all the trees being uprooted


A Mediterranean-like summer, with August average maximum values working out at 26.5C (78F)!

1948     July

Air    temperature    at    Mildenhall reached 93 degrees F. during last week.

1949    July

4 inches of rain within two hours at March on the 15th.


This year saw an early start and a late finish to summer. Air temperature reached 82 degrees F. at Mildenhall on 16th.April, and were still 90 degrees F. at Rushmere St Andrew and Mildenhall on the 5th. september

1950: September

"Blue" sun caused by high-level layer of ash particles from extensive forest fires in Canada.

1953: 31 Jan

A night of dreadful North Sea flood­ing on 31st January/lst February. Severe damage and many lives lost.

1953: August

Air temperature reached 91 degrees F at Mildenhall on the 12th.


A terrible storm struck Haverhill. Most of the High Street and Queen Street area of the town, including the Pightle, was flooded. From Friday 20th June to Friday 27th June, some 3.89 inches of rain fell. Thursday 26th June was quite a dry day, but overnight there was a downpour, and about 1.7 inches of the week's total fell in that night.
People woke up on Friday the 27th to find their homes flooded. These were the worst floods in Haverhill for fifty-five years since those in 1903. From the Co-Op to the Plough Inn in Withersfield Road, the water was up to four feet deep. No main road out of town remained open and most villages around were also flooded.

1959   July

Air temperature at Cromer reached  a maximum of 34C (93F) on the 5th July, while Lowestoft had 57 successive rainless days

1959: October

Air temperature reached 82 degrees F. at Mildenhall during the first week.

1962: Dec

Air temperature dropped to 8 degrees F. at Mildenhall.

1963: 23 Jan

Minimum air temperature of 4 degrees F. at Mildenhall on the 23rd.

1968: 9 March

On the 9th, maximum air tempera­tures at Cromer 74 degrees F., and 77 degrees F. on the 29th.

1970: June

Over 3 1/2 inches of rain within two hours at Wisbech on the 28th.

1972: August

4'/a inches of rain within two hours at Costessey, Norfolk, on the 1st.

1975: 2 June

Snow stopped play in County cricket match at Colchester. First June snowfall ever known in parts of Suffolk.


 At Scole, Norfolk, daytime temperatures averaged at 25.5C (78F) in August,

1976: 2 Jan

Hurricane on the 2nd/3rd with gusts of over 100 mph.

1976: June-july

During last week air temperature reached 93   degrees   F.   at   Honington,   Suffolk. Relative humidity on the 30th the lowest of the century — less than 10% in places. Cromer, Norfolk, averaged 10.3 hours of sunshine a day, while the mercury approached 35.5C (96F) at East Dereham.

In July, Cromer broke its sunshine record with 318 hours recorded in that month.

1978: 11 Jan

Hurricane during night llth/12th with serious North Sea flooding.

1979: 15 Feb

On the 15th, the worst blizzards and road conditions in living memory. Entire communities cut off by drifts; traffic at a standstill.

1981: Dec

Coldest December for over 100 years; mean temperature about 7 degrees F. below normal.

1982: June

4 inches of rain in 100 minutes at West Bradenham, Norfolk, on the 5th, contribu­ting to a record June rainfall of 9 inches.

1985: 8 Jan

Coldest weather ever known in East Anglia; minimum air temperature minus 4 degrees F, at Loddon, Norfolk, on the 8th.

1987: 15/16 Oct

The great storm of October 1987 was the worst to affect the south east of England since 1703. After the storm had passed the landscape was changed - some 15 million trees were felled and whole forests decimated. Buildings suffered severe damage and ships were driven on to shore. 16 people died as a direct result of the storm damage. 16 people were killed


At Beccles, Suffolk, there was a 1,933 hours of sunshine this year. It all began in May with more than 300 hours of sunshine recorded

1990: 27 Jan

Another severe storm

1990: summer

It was the sunniest year on record in parts of East Anglia, with some parts reaching almost 2,000 hours. In August, every day saw the temperature reach or exceed 21C (70F), with temperatures peaking at 34C (93F).


This was one of the driest, sunniest and warmest years since records began. August, for many people, was the warmest August ever recorded.

2007: 17 Jan

A severe storm covered most of the country disrupting road, rail and air transport and damaging many buildings. At least ten people were killed.

D.Fauvell and I.Simpson

Martin Rowley

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