The First Recorded Tornado In England Was Also The Most Destructive

It was so powerful it blew away the London Bridge

Grant Piper
3 min readNov 12, 2021


(Public domain / Made black and white)

In 1066, William the Conqueror rebuilt the London Bridge that spanned the River Thames. It had been destroyed in the fighting in and around London during his conquests. This bridge was a simple wooden construct designed to service the town but was not the grand bridge that people think of today. There are records of the bridge’s construction but it did not stand for long.

Twenty five years later, the bridge was destroyed in a tornado.

The storms produced a remarkable tornado. The London Tornado of 1091 wreaked awful destruction on the Medieval city and left a scar in the history books. Not only is this the first recorded tornado in English history, it was an oddly powerful one.

Tornadoes do occur in England from time to time but they are rarely as powerful as the one that spun up in 1091.

An F4 perhaps

An examination of the historical record and the damages point to a tornado that was equivalent to our F4 tornadoes today. That puts the wind speed at 207–260 mph (333–418 km/h) which was more than enough to cut a swath through the old city of London.

Construction at this time was largely wood with some stone and mortar work mixed in. An F4 tornado is destructive today and it was extremely damaging to the buildings at the time.

There are rarely any tornadoes that spawn in England with the power of an F4 of F5. Perhaps the London Tornado of 1091 is the first recorded in the history of that region because of its abnormal strength.

The damage

An old map featuring St. Mary-le-Bow Church (Public domain)

The London Bridge that had been built by William the Conqueror was completely blown away. The wooden frame could not withstand the powerful winds and the whole construct was ripped from its mooring and destroyed. St Mary-le-Bow Church was also leveled to the ground. This gives us an idea of where the tornado touched down and traveled along the ground.



Grant Piper

Thought provoking articles, when time and payouts permit it.