Major Earthquake Damages Canterbury Cathedral
Kent has the unhappy distinction of being the occasional but regular recipient of major earthquakes, major at least by British standards. The most severe in recorded history is believed to be that of April 6th 1580 , which killed six people and could have been of magnitude 6.0. One hundred and ninety eight years previously another quake in the same area caused significant damage (the quakes seem to strike here with remarkable regularity, on a cycle of about 200 years, two further events happening in 1776 and 1950, though the one that hit in 2007 rather spoils the pattern).
In 1382 it is estimated that the quake had a force of 5.8, with an aftershock three days later of 5.0. The belfry of Canterbury Cathedral was severely damaged, the bells apparently being dislodged and falling to earth, and the cloister likewise suffered structural stress. Other churches, manors and castles in the area are known to have been left with the need for repairs and strengthening work.
The force of the event was great enough to be felt in London, St Paul’s Cathedral taking some damage: a synod was disrupted in the capital, as were Parliament and a trial of heretics, so it wasn’t all bad news. Indeed for one prisoner in Saltwood it was very good news, his captors’ attention being diverted by the tremors meant he was able to escape.
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