South England flood of February 1287
In February 1287 a storm hit the southern coast of England with such ferocity that whole areas of coastline were redrawn. Silting up and cliff collapses led to towns that had stood by the sea finding themselves landlocked, while others that had been inland found themselves with access to the sea.
The city of Winchelsea on Romney Marsh was destroyed (later rebuilt on the cliff top behind). Nearby Broomhill was also destroyed. The course of the nearby river Rother was diverted away from New Romney, which was almost destroyed and left a mile from the coast, ending its role as a port. The Rother ran instead to sea at Rye, prompting its rise as a port. The storm contributed to the collapse of a cliff at Hastings, taking part of Hastings Castle with it, blocking the harbour and ending its role as a trade centre, though it continued as a centre for fishing. Whitstable in Kent is also reported to have been hit by the surge.
In all, the storm can be seen to have had a powerful effect on the Cinque Ports, two of which were hit (Hastings and New Romney), along with the supporting "Antient Town" of Winchelsea. Meanwhile, the other Ancient Town of Rye was advantaged.
The storm is one of two huge ones in England in 1287. The other was the one known in the Netherlands as St. Lucia's flood in December, the following winter. Together with a surge in January 1286, they seem to have prompted the decline of one of England's then leading ports, Dunwich in Suffolk.
- Sussex: Environment, Landscape and Society, Edited by The Geography Editorial Committee, University of Sussex, Alan Sutton, 1983, http://www.sussex.ac.uk/geography/researchprojects/coastview/Introduction_background/Sussex_blue_book_coasts.pdf
- Simons, Paul (2008). Since Records Began. London: Collins. pp. 175–6. ISBN 978-0-00-728463-4.
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