Account of a thunderstorm

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Account of a thunderstorm
by Thomas Browne

Source British Museum Sloane Ms 1866

After 7 aclock in the evening there was almost a continued thunder untill 8, wherin the Tonitru & Fulgur, the noyse & lightening were so terrible that they putt the whole citty into an Amazement,& most unto their prayers. The clowdes went lowe & the cracks seemed neere over our heads during the most part of the thunder.

About 8 aclock an Ignis Fulmineus, pila ignea fulminans, Telum igneuem fulmineum or fire ball hit agaynst the litle woodden pinacle of the high Leucome windowe of my howse toward the market place, brake the flewboards & caryed peeces thereof a stones cast of; whereupon many of the tiles fell into the street & the windowes in adjoyning howses were broaken. At the same time ether a part of that close bound fire or another of the same nature fell into the court yard & wherof no notice was taken till wee began to examine the howse, & then wee found a freestone on the outside of the wall of the entry leading to the kitchin, half a foote from the ground, fallen from the wall, an hole as big as a footeball bored through the wall which is above a foot thick,& a chest wch stood agaynst it on the inside split & caryed above a foot from the wall. The wall also behind the leaden cistern at 5 yards distance from it broaken on the inside & outside, the middle seeming intire. The lead on the edges of the cisterne turnd a litle up,& a great washing boll that stood by it to receave the rayne turned upside downe & split quite thorough.Some chimneys & tyles were struck downe in the market place. And all this god bee thancked without mischief unto any person. The greatest Terror from the noyse, answerable unto 2 or 3 canons. The smell it left was strong like that after the discharge of a canon. The balls that flewe were not like fire in the flame, butt the coale,& the people sayd twas like the sunne. It was discutiens, terebrans, butt not urens. It burnt nothing, nor anything it touched smelt of fire, nor melted any lead of windowe or cisterne, as I found it doe in the great storm about 2 yeares ago at Melton hall 4 miles of, at that time when the hayle broake 3 thousand pounds worth of glasse in Norwich in quarter of an hower. About four dayes after, the like fulminous fire kild a man in Erpingham church by Alysham, upon whom it brake & beat downe divers wch were within wind of it. One also went of in Sr John Hobarts gallerie at Blickling: hee was so neere that his arme & thigh were nummed above an hower after. 2 or 3 dayes after a woeman & horse were killed neere Bungay; her hatt so shivered that no peece remained bigger then a groat, whereof I had some peeces sent unto mee. Granadas, crakers & squibbs do much resemble the discharge, Aurum Fulminans the fury therof. Of other Thunderbolts or Lapides Fulminei I have litle opinion: some I have by mee under that name, butt they are e genere fossilium.

Norwich June 28 1665