Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Weather in June, 1681 and more

Very unseasonal weather in June is nothing new.  On 24th June, 1681, James Tyrrell writes to his friend from their student days at Oxford,  John Locke:

"as for news all that wee talk of here is of the rain and are still praying for more, I think it were worth your enquiry to write to your Friends in France whether they have had the same weather there, since I hear at Oxford, that the Drought hath bin so great about Paris, that the fear of Famine had raised Corne to well near a pistol a bushel: the truth of which I should be glad to know.  in the mean time you may furnish your Paris vertuosos with this observation concerning weather: that for the honour of our Northern Climate, there hath bin seen several times this month ice of the thickness of half a Crowne, and the last time I was told of it was just after I writ my last to you, which was about the 11th. or 12 instant. God be thanked wee are now like to have a seasonable after spring, and in hopes of it I am hayning [fencing grass to protect from cattle] my ground againe as if it were but Lady day having had almost no hay yet; "

This must be small comfort to today's Paris 'virtuosos'.  But dipping into Geoffrey Grigson's  The English Year, extremes of weather seem not uncommon (or perhaps more often recorded) in June.  

June 3rd:  "Since which till last week we had hot dry weather. Now it rains like mad."  Thomas Gray 1760;

June 9th:  "Everything seemed parched and dried up by the two months' drought except some brilliant patches of crimson sanfoin which lighted up the white hot downs and burning Plain."  Francis Kilvert, 1874;  and

June 11th:  We have had an extraordinary drought, no grass, no leaves, no flowers; not a white rose for the festival of yesterday!  About four arrived such a flood, that we could not see out of the windows: the whole lawn was like a lake, though situated on so high an Ararat  [at Strawberry Hill]… You never saw such desolation.…It never came into my head before, that a rainbow office for insuring against water might be very necessary."   Horace Walpole, 1775

The Blind Girl  John Everett Millais, 1856
Birmingham Museums Trust

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