Most of us in the South of England remember vividly the storm of the Autumn of 1887. We thought of it as a specially disasterous event. This book shews that it was mild compared with the Storm of 1703.
Martin Brayne's book describes vividly the destruction and chaos caused. It covers so many fields of interest - the enormous damage to buildings, the loss of life, the wreck of shipping and particularly the destruction of the Eddystone lighthouse.
Martin Brayne is able to draw on eye-witness accounts since Daniel Defoe advertised for them in the aftermath and published them at the time.
Compared with our 1987 hurricane when accounts centered on the destrution of trees, in 1703 it was houses and churches and the loss of a large part of the Navy in a time of war.
Details stand out. At Fairford the great West window bulged inward and crashed into the nave. A chimney of the bishop's palace in Wells was toppled through the roof above the bishop's bedroom killing both him and his wife. The lead on countless church roofs was rolled up as if it were paper and dumped at great distances. People could not know whether it was safer to stay indoors and risk the house falling on them or to go into the street where the air was full of flying tiles. Ships were so driven by the wind that captains hod not only to lower all sails but also to order that the masts be cut off at the deck. In the aftermath at low tide sailors of wrecked vessels were wandering up and down on the Goodwin Sands knowing that when the tide came in they were certain to be drowned and the people of Deal were accused of being more interested in plunderinmg the wrecked ships than in rescuing the sailors.
The whole is set against the religious and political fears of the time.
It is a highly readable and truly fascinating story of a happening that made a huge impact in its day but has now been largely forgotten.