These notes draw on the Suffolk Records Office data for earlier times and my own observations for the later years.
Just over 100 years ago, in fact on February 10th 1895, a gardener at Little Thurlow Hall noted the lowest temperature ever recorded in Suffolk: it was -1 °F (-18.3 °C), and there were 46 days of continuous frost. The most snow ever recorded was in 1963, when snow laid on the ground for 64 days and Temple End Road was impassable for ten days. The village baker, a Mr. Cooper who used a bull-nosed Morris van, had it covered by snow on the sharp bends for four days. There were no JCBs in those days so it was eventually cleared by men from the farms with shovels. Alms House Hill and Broad Road were also full from top to bottom. It had started snowing on December 29th 1962 and it snowed on most days until February 18th 1963, with a depth of 20 inches on the level.
1946 was a very unsettled year with many days of thunder. Manor Farm had a chimney hit by lightning, as did Willow Hall in Wratting Road which suffered much damage. In fact Willow Hall was hit by lightning three times in 40 years and seems to be located in an area with some strange magnetic or electrical disturbance. Radio reception, for example, is very distorted in the immediate vicinity and for about 200 yards from the house up the hill. In September 1943 most of Willow Hall Farm buildings and stacks of straw were destroyed by fire.
On Saturday September 14th 1968 it started raining and it lasted for three days, giving the worst þoods for many years. Two men from Little Thurlow, George Smith (Dorby Wicker, as he was known) and Bill Leatherland, had been to Gt. Wratting on the Saturday evening and returning home in the dark ran into floods in Wratting Road which were more than waist deep and they almost drowned. By the Sunday morning the brick wall near the river at Gt. Thurlow had been washed away. Bales of straw were coming down the river from Bradley and all roads out of the village were impassable until the Tuesday morning, but since then there has not been much more flooding.
On June 2nd 1975 there was heavy snow from about nine in the morning for two hours; hay was being cut at Church Farm, Lt. Thurlow at the time and it had to be stopped because of the depth of snow. Since the trees were heavy with leaf a lot of branches broke off with the weight of the snow, though after that it became very warm for quite a long time.
1976 started with very strong gales on January 2nd, but by early June it had become very warm and dry and there then ensued a long drought which lasted until November 7th. On June 24th a high of 92 °F was recorded and on the 26th it had reached 96 °F. It was my son’s wedding day and it was the warmest anyone can remember it ever being in Church. By July and August there were huge cracks in the fields you could put your hands into.
On October 16th 1987 we had the worst gales anyone can remember. This was the day of the famous hurricane which the weather forecasters failed to predict. By five in the morning a wind speed of 100 m.p.h. was recorded, many trees were uprooted and much damage was caused, with most of the village without power for four days due to broken cables. By 1990 our weather had become much calmer. We enjoyed some warm dry summers and almost snow- and frost-free winters, with any frosts having gone by 10 a.m. As a result of the dry summers a lot of the ponds have dried up. The one at the top of my garden became dry in May 1994, for the first time in the 44 years I have lived here, and I have had very little water in it since.
In April 1998, there was a lot of rain to the south west of Thurlow, but we have had very little in the village and have only heard the odd clap of thunder. June and July have been cool and resulted in a later harvest. At the time of writing in the third week in September, we are getting quite warm weather, with no rain since the 12th and 70 °F recorded on the 19th. Harvest is now finished and next year’s crops are being sown.
After the Great Gale of October 1987