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What caused the great Eafft Anglia storm surges of 1286, 1287, 1328 and 1347? Ye Globale Warminge?

As the usual idiots blame Global Warming or Climate Change or Ocean Acidification or whatever it’s called this week for the recent bad weather and flood surge, I’ve managed to get hold of a copy of Ye Olde Eafft Anglia Thymes from 1286.

On 1 January 1286 a large storm swept much of the town East Anglia town of Dunwich into the sea, and the River Dunwich was partly silted up; this was followed by two further surges in the following year, the South England flood of February 1287 and St. Lucia’s flood in December that year. A popular local legend says that, at certain tides, church bells can still be heard from beneath the waves.

Ye Olde Eafft Anglia Thymes reported:

“A severe storm and a resultant tidal surge strucke the coaft of Eafft Anglia last night, sweeping away the largest part of Dunwich, ye capitale of the Eafft Angles. Speaking from his home up a tree in Saxmundham, Eafft Anglia’s most famous alchemist and general know-it-all Wiseman Phil Jones from the respected (respected? Be ye sure? ed.) Eafft Anglia Centre for Natural Philosophie said that this was a clear indication of the direction that future weather events would take. Daft Phil, as he is known locally, said that his recent warnings against what he called “the alarming rise of horfe-drawn vehicles” following the widespread use of “rounde wheeles” was clearly the cause of these extreme weather events and called on ye Parishe Councile to levy a special taxe on rounde wheeles to discourage the use of horfe-drawn vehicles. This be Daft Phil:

The newspaper went on to say that everyone who knew Daft Phil said his warnings should be ignored as he couldn’t be trusted. Only a year before the storm surge, Daft Phil had claimed he had found a “mysticke potione” that could turn donkey’s droppings into gold. This turned out to be somewhat inaccurate. But the Parishe Councile accepted Daft Phil’s thesis and duly imposed a punitive tax on round wheels – the “rounde wheele taxe”.

A year or so later, the same paper reported that the “rounde wheele taxe” had had a disastrous effect on the poor. Those farmers who could afford to pay the tax passed it on in the form of higher food prices, particularly on “turnippes and parsnippes” the staple diet of “ye poore” as potatoes hadn’t yet been invented. Moreover, those who couldn’t afford to pay Daft Phil’s “rounde wheele taxe” were forced to go back to using square wheels which were found to be much less energy-efficient than round ones.

Though perhaps Daft Phil wasn’t so daft after all. While “ye poore” suffered terribly from Daft Phil’s “rounde wheele tax”, Daft Phil was given a pile of money by the Parishe Councile in the form of a “grante and speciale difpensatione for the studie of the relaionshippe between the use of horfe-drawn vehicles and the difaftrous waterie floodes that hath so blighted our lande this paste yeer”.

There was an equally fierce storm in 1328 which swept away the entire village of Newton, a few miles up the coast. Ye Eafft AngliaThymes reported: “Daft Phil’s grandson Edmund, known locally as ‘he who be even more daft than Daft Phil’, suggested that the recent discovery of  three witches in Mudduningham had clearly caused the Greate Storme and proposed immediate government action to tackle the growth of witchcraftery. Edmund even drew up a “Greate Charte” often called “ye broomsticke charte” showing how the number of houses destroyed by the storm was directly linked to the rising number of ugly old women practising witchcraftery.

When another large storm in 1347 swept some 400 houses into the sea, Daft Edmund ran through the one remaining street shouting, “I tolde ye, I tolde ye. I showed ye my Greate Charte, my broomsticke charte. But ye did sodde all. And nowe looke ye at what hath befallen us.”

Perhaps there’s something we can learn from what happened in Eafft Anglia all those centuries ago?

(Sorry about the different text sizes, but WordPress seems to be playing up again)

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