Storm Event

“The corpses of the drowned were seen unburied near the shores, thrown by the sea into caves”

Severity ? 6


No known sources of information.


The sea, accompanied by violent winds, caused rivers to overtop in the Wisbech area (Britton, 1937). Paris (1852) wrote of a fierce wind storm that lead to inundations of rivers and the sea in coastal areas which did not let up for two days.

Receptor and Consequence

This event was associated with coastal flooding in Wisbech and surrounding areas (Hickey, 1997). As well as the Fenland, the storm surge effected Norfolk and London (Hickey, 1997; Lane, 1968). Stow (1631) wrote that the marshes of Wisbech were completely submerged and ‘the greatest number’ of men women and children were drowned. In one small village, around 100 bodies were entombed in one day. Whole flocks of sheep and herds of cattle were lost from Woolwich to Wisbech (Brazell, 1968; Britton, 1937). The waves ‘overturned’ houses and tore up trees (Britton, 1937). The winter crop would have been lost, as well as stored goods, leaving the remaining population at risk of starvation. The submerged farm land would not recover from the salt water inundation for some years. The channel allowing the River Nene to discharge into the Wash was silted up, but a new one formed via the River Ouse to allow trading to continue out of Wisbech. Wisbech Castle, built on the orders of William the Conqueror in the 11thCentury was damaged in the flood (Gilbert, 2017).

Summary Table

Loss of life Hundreds drowned
Residential property Whole villages destroyed
Evacuation & Rescue *
Cost *
Ports Ships lost for their harbours
Transport *
Energy *
Public services *
Water & wastewater *
Livestock Many sheep and cattle were lost
Agricultural land Submerged farm land ruined for future use due to salt; winter crops lost
Coastal erosion *
Natural environment Silt blocked the waterway of the River Nene, new channels were formed surrounding the River Ouse to allow trading to continue
Cultural heritage Thought to have damaged medieval castle, built in Norman times
Coastal defences *

*No known sources of information available


  1. Britton C. E. (1937). ‘A Meteorological Chronology To A.D. 1450’. Geophysical Memoirs, 70. London: H. M. Stationary Office. 177pp.
  2. Paris, M. (1852). Matthew Paris’ English History. From the year 1235 to 1273: Paris, Matthew, 1200-1259. (J. A. Giles, trans). Available at: (Accessed: 6 August 2018).
  3. Hickey, K. R. (1997).Documentary records of coastal storms in Scotland, 1500-1991 A.D.Coventry University. Available at:
  4. Lane, F. W. (1965). The Elements Rage. New York: Chilton Books.
  5. Stow, J. (1631). Annales, or a generall chronicle of England: begun first by Maister John Stow, and after him continues and augmented with matter forreyne, and domestique, ancient and modern, into the ende of his present yeere 1614. Londini: Impensis T. Adams, 1615.
  6. Gilbert, M. (2017). The Changing Landscape and Economy of Wisbech Hundred, 1250 – 1550. Available at: (Accessed: 4 September 2018).