The Dreadful Tempest

An Exact Relation Of the Late Dreadful Tempest, a twenty-four page book published in 1704.

The Great Storm of 1703 raged across southern England and the English Channel on the 26th and 27th of November causing unprecedented damage and loss of life.

The Somerset Levels – prone to flooding at the best of times – was inundated as never before with hundreds of lives lost. Bristol experienced aberrant flooding with ships being washed up to fifteen miles inland.

Westminster Abbey lost part of its roof and tumbling chimney stacks claimed dozens of lives. The winds levelled a swathe of woods, copses and forests, with an estimated loss of four thousand oak trees in the New Forest. In The Storm, published the following year, Daniel Defoe described the event as “the tempest that destroyed woods and forests all over England“.

Ships on the River Thames in London were piled up on one another like children’s’ toys and thirteen Royal Navy vessels were lost at sea along with the lives of around 1,500 seamen. The newly built lighthouse was swept off Eddystone Rocks with the loss of several lives including that of its builder, Henry Winstanley. In all, up to 15,000 lives were lost over the two day cataclysm.

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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3 Responses to The Dreadful Tempest

  1. Joe M. says:

    A timly post for us here in the states. A couple of miles from me the storm surge was around 6 feet. a few block from where i work large boats 25-35 feet in lenght were left on lawns, streets etc,
    A co-worker had an 18 foot boat remain on the roof of here SUV Chevy truck! She spent the time of “sandys” vist on the second floor wearing a life preserver! Thankfully at our home, we had no such damage and were out of power/heat for only 6 days.


  2. Anthony Andrews says:

    Serendipity! The weather has been awful all year if truth be told here in the UK but it was your mention of Defoe and ‘The Storm’ that caught my eye. This same storm and author were the subject of a TV program last night where they explained that he was broke, out of work and looking for employment. Spotting an opportunity, Defoe placed an advertisement in a newspaper asking people for their recollections of the storm. From these, he compiled his first book which is, arguably, the earliest example of ‘modern’ journalism.


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