Portrait of Bampton, Devon, in the Eighteenth Century

By Tom McManamon

The Weather

There were some strange weather patterns during the eighteenth century. Late in 1703, probably the most violent storm known hit southern Britain, two casulaties of which were the old Eddystone lighthouse, and the Bishop of Bath & Wells, who was killed in his bed. Gales which caused severe damage occurred on 29 January 1701, 19 January 1735, 7 October 1756, and over 14-15 September 1786. 1725 saw a couple of extremes. On 13 January the west country saw the start of a drought which lasted until 12 April. A fortnight or so later, a long wet spell began and ended on 8 July. 1740 was also a year to forget. On 11 January, the temperature hit -20°C in London, whilst snow fell in southern England on 16 May, and on 9 October a record cold spell began with severe frosts and snow. In 1764 there were severe thunderstorms on 18 June, which demolished many buildings. It was this storm which saw the introduction of lightning conductors.

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