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1287 A Terrible Year for Storms

(1287AD - 1287AD )




In Feb 1287, a storm hit the southern coast of England with such ferocity that whole areas of coastline were redrawn - towns that had stood by the sea now found themselves landlocked, while others found themselves in possession of new harbours.

In Hastings, the storm caused the cliff and with it half the Norman castle to fall into the sea, blocking off the harbour and ending the town's days as a port. The old town took over as the port, but the protected inlet was totally destroyed. The old harbour is where the Shopping Centre in Hastings can be found.

Further along the coast, the port of Old Winchelsea , an island which was where the current Winchelsea Beach can be found was completely destroyed. It was later rebuilt several miles inland, where it became the first example of town planning in England being built on a grid system familiar to our American friends. Despite its new hilltop position Winchelsea still retained its place as a Cinque Port .

The most dramatic change wrought by the great storm was to the towns of Rye and New Romney . Before the storm New Romney was a thriving harbour town with the River Rother flowing through it into the English Channel. The storm silted up the harbour completely and diverted the river away from the town to enter the sea at Rye about 15 miles away. More or less overnight New Romney became landlocked, a mile from the coast. So much silt was deposited by the flood that the land level in the town rose by 5 inches. If you visit the parish church, which is the only building in the town pre-dating the flood, you will find that the floor of the church is several inches below street level. The pillars in the church provide further evidence of the flood - the level the water reached can still be seen on them. The River Rother that had previously entered the sea at New Romney , changed course and now entered the sea at Rye , creating a brand new harbour.

At the time of the great storm of 1287, and for two or three hundred years after, the Rother flowed north of the Isle of Oxney by Smallhythe .

The Coastline in 1250 AD After 1287 AD
Coastline in 1250 AD Coastline in 1287 AD
The Rother changes its outlet to the sea from New Romney to Rye



14 December 1287, North Sea Countries: A mighty storm sends a high storm surge onto Holland, drowning a reported 50,000. In East Anglia, England, 500 lives are lost.

Hickling Norfolk, in 1287 a great flood engulfed the Village, and 180 people were drowned. The waters rose a foot above the high altar of the Priory Church. Hickling was one of the townships that suffered most severely from the tremendous storm of December, 1287, no fewer than nine score persons being drowned there. In the priory the water rose more than a foot above the high altar, and all the canons fled away except two, who stayed behind and managed to save the horses and other property by bringing them up into the dormitory over the vaulted undercroft.
Extract From: 'Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Hickling'
A History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2 (1906), pp. 383-386.

By 1242 Dunwich was the largest port in Suffolk, but this changed dramatically after the great storms of 1287

1287 Whitstable was hit by a tidal surge

Villages Referenced

Broomhill  -   (Swept away by the Storm)
Fairfield  -   (The Isolated Church)
Hastings Harbour  -   (The Harbour and Fishing)
Littlestone  -   (The Genteel Resort)
Lydd  -   (The Cathedral of the Marsh)
New Romney  -   (Cinque Port and Storm)
Old Winchelsea  -   (Abandoned after the Great Storm)
Rye  -   (On the Island)
Winchelsea  -   (Inland Cinque Port !!)

 
       
 
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