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Weatherwatch: When rivers freeze over in 1795 | Environment

Weatherwatch: When rivers freeze over in 1795 | Environment

OThe climate crisis has one upside: the winters in northern Europe have been warmer. The January that was the coldest since 1659, when records started in England, was 1795, when rivers like the Thames and Severn frozen over. The temperature never rose above freezing throughout the month.

Country parsons were people who fed poor people at Christmas and gave them a shilling each to help them buy food for January. Due to a dry summer, grain was already in short supply. The following spring saw hunger so great that there were bread riots.

James Woodforde was a country parson from Weston Longeville in Norfolk. He wrote in his diaries how he suffered from gout on cold nights. He worried about poor people suffering because of the damage frost has done to their vegetables.

On Saturday 25 January, a severe storm ripped the roof of his barn and took the thatch off it. He was able to eat a few boiled rabbits and beef steaks, but the wind was so strong that it made for a poor dinner.

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Three days later, it was still very severe frost. It freezes inside doors. He also mentions that two women died while returning from Norwich to their home from the market on Saturday.

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