The Floods of 1287
On December 14, 1287 a strong storm tide caused a dike to break and decimate parts of the Netherlands and Northern Germany (the day after St. Lucia Day), killing between 50,000 to 80,000 people. Land was permanently flooded in an area now known as the Waddenzee and IJsselmeer. It especially affected the north of the Netherlands, particularly Friesland. The island of Griendwas was almost destroyed, only ten houses were left standing. It would be known as The St. Lucia Flood.
In England, the same storm had similar devastating effects. It killed hundreds of people in England, mostly in the village of Hickling, Norfolk, where 180 died and the water rose a foot above the high altar in the Priory Church. The storm is one of two in 1287 sometimes referred to as a “Great Storm”. The other was the South England flood of February 1287. 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. 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.