On this day in history : 27th November 1703 – The Great Storm of 1703 wreaks havoc across Southern Britain…. Hurricane strength winds and flooding kill between 10,000 and 30,000 people – hundreds of ships are lost….
Unusual weather had begun a couple of weeks before with strong winds from the Atlantic battering Wales and the South of England…. But the really serious damage began to occur on the 26th of November, with winds reaching over 80mph….
Coastal towns such as Bristol, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Cowes were devastated…. The Eddystone lighthouse, off of Plymouth, was felled and all those inside killed…. 300 Royal Navy ships anchored off the South Coast were lost, with 8,000 crew on board them…. 1,000 seamen died on the Goodwin Sands alone….
5,000 homes along the River Thames were destroyed as huge waves were sent up the river…. 2,000 chimney stacks were lost in London – the lead roofing blown from Westminster Abbey…. 400 windmills were destroyed when wind blew their sails so fast that their wooden gears burst into flames…. 4,000 oak trees were lost in the New Forest…. Hundreds drowned in floods on the Somerset Levels – a ship was found 15 miles inland….
The storm of 1703 inspired Daniel Defoe’s first published book ‘The Storm’ – as he had witnessed it….describing it as an “Army of Terror in its furious march”….