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T: warm/cold events; R: dry/wet events; S: 'stormy' events)

 Date T R S  Description  Ref:
 1200-1219: (era)  An exceptional series of great North Sea floods, mainly on the Dutch and German coasts. Great losses of land and people in the marshlands between Hamburg and Jutland. Some of these storm floods are believed also to have affected the English coast (almost certain I would have thought given the geography).
[ Note that HH Lamb has stated that there was a marked increase in North Sea storminess during the 13th century, relative to what had gone before. ]
& 1202
 Two consecutive 'wet' years (but see end this entry). In 1201 specifically, the summer is thought to have experienced severe thunderstorms, notable hail in the London area - mid/late June (some sources have June 25th(OSP)).
In contrast to the foregoing, some sources have 1201 experiencing a notable "heat & drought" episode, but with no location details: harvest over on June 24th(OSP) in 1201 (where?); drought continued through July & August.
 A year of heavy rains in London. (Year not certain - might be one of the previous years, q.v.)  8
 This winter was one of the severe winters of history and most rivers including the Thames were frozen completely; the frost prevented ploughing and all agricultural work was suspended from 14th January to 22nd March, the winter seed was destroyed and there was widespread famine.  8
 1209  Old London Bridge built - because of its construction it allowed build-up of water up-river, particularly when debris clogged the gaps. Even without such problems, high water levels could lead to a significant difference between up-river & down-river sides: 'several feet' are mentioned. Conversely, tidal rise / fall was dampened by the bridge - decreasing the chance of tidal flooding above the bridge. However, the bridge increased the chance of fluvial flooding upstream. Bermondsey (London) is noted as having experienced flooding in this year.  8
 A severe winter. (Europe - Easton, in CHMW/Lamb). Severe frost in January and early February (London/South).  1, 8
 A dry summer; a great fire in London.  x
 Another dry summer in which the Thames was so low in London that women and children could wade across it.  x
 A cold winter in western Europe / implied parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 1218  Man killed by lightning at Stepney on 2nd February.
Severe thunderstorm with heavy rain on the 29th November.
 A cold winter in western Europe / implied parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 18th October 1220 (or 1221)  A violent northeasterly gale did much damage in London; the exact year/date is uncertain.  6, 8
 1222  Dry. Hot/dry summer in London/South.  8
 1223  A very wet year with much flooding.  8
 1224?  A great drought in winter (of 1223/4 or 1224/5?: see also entry below.)  8
or 1225/26
 A severe winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb .. Ref. 1 .. 1224/25)
Severe Winter (London/South .. Ref. 8 .. 1225/26).
Difficult to know if these are the same events, with the year mis-attributed, or two events.
 1, 8
 1227  Famine throughout Ireland this year, and much sickness and death among men from various causes: cold, famine and every kind of disease.
[ Source: Annals of Connacht, 1227 CE. Source: ]
 (see text)
 1230  St. Pauls damaged by lightning.  8
& 1233
 November (both years) - thundery (in a month that is not normally noted for thunderstorms inland). In 1232, London experienced 15 days of thunderstorms.  8
 1233  Wet summer - heavy rains led to severe and widespread flooding over most of England. Severe thunderstorms on the 10th February [ accompanied by a 'gale' ] & thunder occurred on several days in November (see above). This sort of weather would have had major effects upon a mostly rural population, with possible famine, disease.  8
 Long & severe frost from Christmas to 2nd February/Candlemas(OS) (London/South).  8
 A severe winter in western Europe / implied parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb): this is suspiciously close to the event for 1233/34 .....  1
 1236  Very heavy rain January to March: two floods in London in 1236. The first, which flooded Westminster Palace early in the year, was due to heavy prolonged rain.
The second was produced by a high (storm-surge) tide in November, drowned many people and a great number of cattle in the Woolwich area. An inundation in Norfolk by the sea destroyed flocks of sheep & herds of cattle, tore up trees and demolished houses. In one village alone about 100 people died. This must have been a major wind-driven event, caused by a violent depression, very low pressure & high winds.
However, the summer of this year was noted as dry/hot in London/South.
 7, 8
 Heavy rains in February; the Thames flooded great stretches of the country (presumably roughly downstream of Oxford?). It seems reasonable to assume that the winter as a whole was a wet one - but always problems with dating these events.)  8
 Hot & dry.  GPE
 1240  Dry from January to March. (London/South).  8
Summer &
early Autumn)
 March - October, a prolonged drought. Dry/hot from 25th March(OSP) to 28th October(OSP). (London/South)  8
 Heavy rain and thunderstorms on 19th November(OS) and on many days thereafter; the Thames flooded at Westminster & Lambeth.  8
 1244  Dry autumn. (London/South).  8
 Three 'major' storms are identified as having affected the Dutch coastal communities, which may have had an impact upon the English coast.
> November 20th (OSP)
> December 28th (OSP)
> February 4th (OSP)
 Gale on 28th October (London/South?, OSP but could have been corrected to NS).  8
 mid-1200's onwards  Analysis of agricultural records of the time suggest that after the mid-1200's, harvests were increasingly subject to failures for various reasons (drought, cold/wet etc.).  x
 October 1250  Major North Sea/English Channel storm/flood. Winchelsea on the Sussex coast suffered badly with 300 houses and a number of churches destroyed in a storm on the 1st October, 1250. More generally on this date, a major North Sea gale & sea flood caused great damage to adjacent parts of England, Holland & Flanders.(see also November 1570)  6,
 19th May 1251  Several houses in Windsor, including one occupied by the Royal Family ( Henry III ) were struck by lightning during a severe thunderstorm.  8
 1252 & 1253  Both dry years - considered by some (e.g. Brooks), as the driest pair of consecutive years known in the record. The summer (& possibly the spring in London/South) of 1252 was outstandingly dry/hot, with the ensuing drought ruining crops & many people died from the excessive heat.
Spring/Summer 1253 was also noted as dry/hot London/South.
 1252 & 1253
 However (in contrast to entry above), significant flooding also occurred: the 1252 flood (in October) was due to heavy rain & the 1253 one (also in October) was tidal (storm-surge?).  8
(see note)
 Severe frost January to March (London/South). This is possibly the winter of 1254-55; the usual problem with attributing dates in these early years.  8
 1255  Drought in spring & summer (London/South).  8
 1256-1258  Three wet years .... extensive flooding, which led to harvest failures & high grain prices: shortage & starvation / distress for poor people.  8
 1257  A report published in autumn 2013 is summarised on the BBC web site (see link) and states that one of the (perhaps the) major eruptions occurred in 1257 on Lombok Island in modern-day Indonesia. Extract: "The impact on the climate would have been significant. Medieval texts describe atrocious weather the following summer in 1258. It was cold, and the rain was unrelenting, leading to flooding. Archaeologists recently put a date of 1258 on the skeletons of thousands of people who were buried in mass graves in London. "; see the various entries above and below which tie in with all this.  via BBC
web site
 June 24th(OSP), River Severn storm flood - many drowned. Not clear if this is heavy rain-water (i.e. a pluvial) event, or a wind-driven storm-surge event - hence no categorisation.  LWH
 1258  Notably cold/very wet overall: combination of cold/backward spring & heavy autumn rains gave rise to a very poor harvest. (see also above)  8
 1259  Dry autumn (London/South).  8
 Frequent & heavy thunderstorms during the summer produced hailstones with a diameter of about 5 cm (2 inches).
However, as often noted with such phenomena, there was a 'drought' in the summer London / South - this is not necessarily counter-intuitive as there are many cases of dry seasons throwing up localised severe storms.
 1261  Frost/snow during February (London/South).  8
 28th (OSP) - Major storm/flood affects the Dutch coastal communities; may also have had an impact upon the English coastline of the southern North Sea.  GOTT
 Gale on 13th May (London/South). [ It is just possible there is a link between this event and the one below .. but very unsure about this.]  8
(between May & October)
 1. Eleanor of Provence (Queen-Consort to Henry III) was frustrated by 'bad weather' (dates not known, but has to be late summer / early autumn 1264) in her attempt to bring troops to the aid of her husband's cause. The Queen's fleet was trapped by frequent spells of high wind at Sluis, Flanders (modern-day Netherlands, near the Belgian border) before it could cross to the Kent coast. According to Lamb, the 13th century experienced the highest number (by some margin) of "severe sea floods" along North Sea & English Channel coasts. Although the climate across NW Europe was still generally benign (indeed, the peak of warmth of the Medieval Age may have occurred in this century), from the middle of the 13th century, an increase in 'unsettled' weather events has been detected by some researchers; the first signs of the descent into the 'Little Ice Age'. It is indeed possible that the increased storminess was concentrated in the second half of the 13th century, so it was unfortunate that Eleanor attempted the passage of the Dover Strait at this time. (Lamb)  1,19
 6th (OSP): Major storm/flood affected the Dutch coastal communities, and by extension should also have had some impact upon the English southern North Sea region.  GOTT
 A bitter frost persisted for about 10 weeks during this severe winter; the Thames froze solid (thick enough for 'men & beasts' to cross over) and was closed to shipping, so that merchandise had to be transported overland between the Channel ports and London. Accounts of this winter included reference to glazed frost; the thaw, when it arrived, was accompanied by heavy rain and flooding. A flood on the Thames noted in February - presumably a combination of heavy rain / inland snow-melt etc., after the events referred to above.  1, 8
 Possibly frequent dry or very dry summers. [From paper in 'Weather', May 2014]  [Lamb & others]
 1271  Gale; no date given. The bell tower of the church of St. Mary-le-Bow was blown down and killed several people. Also this year, from Norwich ecclesastical records a 'great flood' in this year, also lightning damaged the cathedral steeple.  8
 1276  Dry from April to July (London/South).  8
 England (location and exact date not known) ... severe thunderstorm, trees uprooted, buildings destroyed or flattened, lakes dried up (?). Possible T4 tornado event (could have been higher given those effects!)  (TORRO/JMet)
 1280  Considerable damage etc., across East Anglia due to floods & storms. (Norwich cathedral records).  x
 October 1280  On the 9th(OSP), heavy snow fell in London. In modern-day dating, I suppose we're talking about mid-month, which would be remarkable in the 21st century.  8
 During this notable winter, the frost (noted as a 'Great Frost' in contemporary records for January 1282) & snow persisted from Christmas to March; the Thames was frozen so hard that people could walk across the river (between Lambeth & Westminster certainly) and the force of the ice damaged five of the arches of London Bridge - some references say the arches 'collapsed'.  8, 20
 1282  (month not known, but after the snow above, and some reports of a 'destructive thaw' in this year, it would suggest sometime in early / mid-spring); Severe floods in 1282 when a great Gale brought much destruction & loss of life to Lincolnshire & East Anglia.  x, 20
 1283  Wet summer & autumn in London.  8
 1285  Dry/hot summer (London/South).  8
  In March 1286 the combination of high tides and strong easterly winds caused 'great devastation'. In particular a strip of land down the eastern side of Dunwich, in places a hundred metres wide, was eroded by the sea. Residential areas, churches, and a small monastery were carried away. The priory of Grey Friars was almost totally demolished, only the graveyard and the west wall of its chapel remaining in existence. Massive waves swept across Kings Holme and flooded the lower town. The harbour mouth seems to have stayed open, but further north the River Blyth again forced a way through Kings Holme at or near the point where the previous opening had been.
[ This may have been the same STORM that was involved in the death of King Alexander III of Scotland. ]
 9th May, 1286 (corrected to new-style calendar) .. thunderstorm with large hail ('as big as stones'?). Crops levelled, houses damaged, branches of trees broken etc. Squally winds (and a possible tornado, but not certain - though the mention of the large hail tends to support mechanics available for such.)  (JMet/TORRO)
(Spring &
 Dry from April to July.
 1287  A 'terrible' inundation in the East Anglia (particularly Norfolk) coastal areas in December 1287 (14th or 17th OSP/confusion with dates), probably due to a storm surge. Houses destroyed, and in the village of Hickling the water was so deep that it overflowed the high altar of the priory by a foot or more. Some 500 people perished in this most fatal of all British floods.
[ The year 1287 is noted by Lamb [Ref. 23] as being one with 'many storm floods' along the East Anglian, Kent and Sussex (and adjacent continental) coastlines. ]
 Tidal flooding on the Thames in January (but whether 1288 or 1289 is open to doubt). Also, there is a listing of a major flooding/storm event in the Low Countries in February (4th/OSP) 1288 and given that there are always doubts surrounding the accuracy of the calendar in use, this could be the same storm.  8,
 Summer: dry/hot (London/South).  8
 Severe winter (London/South).  8
 1290  Wet summer & autumn in London.  8
 1291  Dry summer London/South.  8
 May 1294  On the 14th May(OS), heavy snow fell in London: the equivalent date in the modern calendar would be some 8 or 9 days later.  8
 The Thames flooded Rotherhithe, Bermondsey, Tothill & Westminster on the 18th October(OSP). No details as to whether this is rainfall-related or a tidal surge.  8

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Researched by and published with permission of Martin Rowley