July 18, 1816

18/07/2019 all-day

The summer of 1816 was a disaster. According to the Norfolk Annals, on July 18, “after a week’s continuous rain, which greatly impeded the hay harvest, a severe thunderstorm occurred”. Crops were beaten down, acres of turnips were washed away and in several villages the lanes were full of water.

This went on not just in Norfolk, but throughout much of the country, for months. It was later known as the ‘year with no summer’. In fact, bad weather was a worldwide thing that year, with effects felt as far away as North America.

Experts now believe it was all due to a massive volcanic explosion in Indonesia. In April, 1815, Mount Tambora erupted. This 13,000ft tall mountain on the island of Sumbawa, blew its top in what is reckoned to be the greatest volcanic event in 1,600 years.

Vast amounts of volcanic dust had gone into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, effectively blotting out the sun. The world’s climate was disrupted for years to come. It devastated harvests, leading to near starvation for some, as well as social and political unrest.