The Great Thunderstorm of Widecombe-in-the-Moor

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xmetman

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Jul 10, 2016, 5:15:45 AM7/10/16
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The Great Thunderstorm of Widecombe-in-the-Moor on Dartmoor, according to the Wikipedia article took place on Sunday, 21 October 1638, when the church of St Pancras was apparently struck by ball lightning during a severe thunderstorm. An afternoon service was taking place at the time, and the building was packed with approximately 300 worshippers. Four of them were killed, around 60 injured, and the building severely damaged as the tower and roof were ripped off. It's hard to believe that now, when you stand back and look at the church as I did just a few days ago that such a calamity ever befell it, but then again it did happen almost 378 years ago.


According to an article entitled "Jan Reynolds and the Devil" on the website Legendary Dartmoor website says that Widecombe has been called the ‘valley of thunderstorms’, and that the number of dead might have been as many as 21. The late great L C W Bonacina has an account of it in an early edition of the Weather Magazine (Volume 1, Issue 4, August 1946, Pages: 123–125), and it may be as well as being hit by a severe thunderstorm and lightning, Widecombe may have also have laid in the track of a tornado due to the amount of damage done to the church and surroundings. The weather setup at the time sounds a lot like a 15th century "Spanish Plume" event, with severe thunderstorms, wind and hail sweeping right across the southwest of England that day.


Col

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Jul 10, 2016, 6:58:33 AM7/10/16
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The date of the storm was 21st October, surely far too late in the year for a full blown Spanish plume. In fact as this is an 'old style' date it actually converts to 31st October, so even later.

xmetman

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Jul 10, 2016, 7:40:45 AM7/10/16
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It was only an idea... 

Col

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Jul 10, 2016, 1:20:09 PM7/10/16
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I wasn't rubbishing your ideas, apologies if I gave that impression.
I was just expressing surprise that a potent Spanish plume could ocurr so late in the year.

xmetman

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Jul 10, 2016, 1:29:17 PM7/10/16
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Yes you're right. Someone commented on Facebook that it was in the days before lightning conductors, and that's why the top of the tower was destroyed, and the church being full with 300 people (maybe for harvest festival) also contributed to the loss of life.
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