The Great Storm of 1703 hit Great Britain on November 26, 1703 from the southwest with wind gusts of up to 120 mph.
In London, approximately 2,000 massive chimney stacks were blown down.
The lead roofing was blown off Westminster Abbey while Queen Anne sheltered in a cellar at St. James’s Palace to avoid collapsing chimneys.
Pinnacles were blown from the top of King’s College Chapel, in Cambridge.
On the Thames river, around 700 ships were heaped together in a section downstream of London Bridge known as the Pool of London.
The HMS Vanguard was wrecked at Chatham.
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s HMS Association was blown from Harwich to Gothenburg in Sweden.
There was extensive flooding of the British West Country, particularly around Bristol.
Hundreds of people drowned from the flooding of the Somerset Levels, along with thousands of sheep and cattle.
At Wells, Bishop Richard Kidder and his wife were killed while sleeping when two chimneystacks in the palace fell on their bed.
The storm blew in part of the great west window of Wells Cathedral.
Winds destroyed more than 400 windmills.
Major damage also occurred to the south-west tower of Llandaff Cathedral at Cardiff.
In the English Channel and at sea, fierce winds and high seas swamped some vessels outright and drove others aground. As many as 40 merchant ships (many returning from helping the King of Spain fight the French in the War of the Spanish Succession) were wrecked.
The Royal Navy was badly affected, losing thirteen ships, and the entire Channel Squadron.
A ship torn from its moorings in the Helford River in Cornwall was blown for 200 miles before grounding eight hours later on the Isle of Wight.
The first Eddystone Lighthouse off Plymouth was destroyed, killing six occupants, including its builder Henry Winstanley (John Rudyard was later contracted to build the second lighthouse on the site).
The Great Storm of 1703 also caught a convoy of 130 merchant ships and their Man of War escorts, the “Dolphin”, the “Cumberland”, the “Coventry”, the “Looe”, the “Hastings” and the “Hector” sheltering at Milford Haven. By 3pm the next afternoon losses included some 30 vessels.
Observers at the time recorded barometric readings as low as 973 millibars (measured by William Derham in south Essex), but it has been suggested that the storm may have deepened to 950 millibars over the Midlands.
The Great Storm, unprecedented in ferocity and duration, was one of the most severe natural disasters ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain.
It is thought that perhaps as many as 15,000 lives were lost overall due to the storm, including some 10,000 seamen (1/3 of all the seamen in the British Navy).
After the storm resided, ships were discovered as far inland as 15 miles.
The number of oak trees lost in the New Forest alone was over 4,000.
Some People even reckoned the storm represented the anger of God.
The Great Storm also coincided with the increase in English journalism, and was the first weather event to become a news story on a national scale.
Special issue broadsheet newspapers were produced detailing damage to property and stories of the people who had been killed.
Daniel Defoe produced his full-length book, The Storm, published in July of 1704, in response to the calamity, calling it “the tempest that destroyed woods and forests all over England.”
“No pen could describe it, nor tongue express it, nor thought conceive it unless by one in the extremity of it. Coastal towns such as Portsmouth looked as if the enemy had sackt them and were most miserably torn to pieces.”
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