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  • Writer's picturePaul


If you had to think of somewhere associated with tornadoes, chances are the midwest of America might spring to mind first. Less likely to spring to mind? How about eleventh-century London.

But it just so happens that on 17 October 1091, during the reign of William II, what we would now class as a category F4 tornado formed over southeast England and headed directly for what would go on to become the city of London.

Winds in excess of 200mph destroyed more than 600 wooden buildings; reportedly, the winds were strong enough to tear four 26ft wooden rafters from the roof of the St Mary-le-Bow Church on Cheapside, and embed them so deeply in the earth outside that only 4ft of timber remained visible above ground.

As if firing 22ft of solid oak into the ground wasn’t bizarre enough, even more curious is the fact that despite striking without warning—and despite London being home to almost 20,000 people at the time—there were reportedly only two fatalities that day.

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