Storms and aerial phenomena

THE frost during the latter part of the month of January, 1772, was so severe that the oil in the public cisterns was frozen. On the night of the nth of February, the cold was still more intense. Mr. Thomas Rhodes, butler to Mr. Chaworth, of Annesley, in company with a man named John Curtis, of the same place, were proceeding on the road to Mansfield with a team of horses, when they met, near the "Hutt," a foot soldier proceeding in that direction. Mr. Rhodes, fearing that the man might be starved to death if left to himself, generously took off the front horse of his team, and, mounting the soldier thereon, sent him to Mansfield, where, with almost incredible difficulty, he at length arrived in safety. His kind-hearted preserver, however, with his companion, through this step fell victims to the inclemency of the weather. The team, as it would appear, accustomed to the horse taken by the soldier as a leader, on his departure had absolutely continued irremovably fixed to the spot, having made little or no attempt to draw the vehicle forward. The consequence was that the two poor men, exhausted with fatigue and long exposure to the severity of the storm, lost all power to travel forward, and were frozen to death on the ground, being found next morning a short distance from each other. One of them left a widow and eight children.

On the 21 st of August, 1794, the town of Mansfield was visited with a terrific storm of thunder, lightning, hail, and rain, during which the electric fluid in one instance descended in appearance like a compact ball of fire, and did considerable damage to a house standing in the immediate vicinity of the town.

On the night of the 21st of October, in the same year, another remarkable celestial phenomena was witnessed in the neighbourhood of Mansfield. The appearance was that of a steady white light, extending nearly from the points north-east to south-west, and, when observed from an elevation, seemed to form the segment of a circle of immense extent.

On the 28th of January, 1814, the Leeds mail left Nottingham about seven o'clock in the evening, drawn by six good horses, and at about half-past nine it had reached no further than eight miles on the road to Mansfield; the last mile, owing to the fatigue of the horses and the accumulation of snow on the wheels and body of the coach, having taken more than an hour to traverse. The outside passengers, two in number, were then desired by the driver to get inside and make themselves—with a lady and gentleman then inside the coach—"comfortable for the night," as both himself and the guard found it impossible to take the coach any further; observing, at the same time—without, as may be supposed, adding thereby to the comfort of the company—that a man was lying dead on the road near to where they were stopping. Exertions were immediately made to reach the body, and in about ten minutes the man (for he was still alive, though totally unconscious) was reached and brought into the vehicle. In the course of one hour he became so far recovered as to be able to tell his rescuers that his name was Allison, that he was seventy years of age, that he had walked that day from Mansfield to Nottingham, and was going back again, and that the last he remembered was creeping on his hands and knees to reach the guide-post. The coachman, with five of the horses, sought refuge at a farm-house in the neighbourhood; the guard, with one of the horses and the mail bags, returned to Nottingham. On the following morning, the lady was fetched home again by her husband in a postchaise with four horses attached. The rest of the company made the best of their way over the frozen snow to Mansfield.

On the 17th of March, 1816, a severe earthquake was felt here about 12.30. The people were leaving the chapels, and the vicar was preaching in the church, when a severe shock was felt. Great alarm seized upon the congregation, who could not make out what was the matter. The vicar, however, called out, "There is no need for alarm, friends ; it is only the steeple that has fallen down." This calmed the frightened people; but many were injured by falling at the foot of the stairs leading to the gallery, and others leapt over the bodies of the fallen and so escaped. In a short time, a gentleman who had lived in the tropics said, "It is an earthquake," and this restored confidence. Many houses were much shaken, and the walls of some cracked; the bells of houses rang of their own accord; and many who were walking complained that " they felt as if there was a step in the way," stumbling and falling; but, very fortunately, no serious damage was done.

In the month of August, 1858, a heavy thunderstorm passed over Mansfield, and a waterspout burst in the Dalestorth Fields, flooding the land, and causing the water in Lady Brook to rise to such a height that it flooded an enclosure about four feet high in Westfield Lane and rose to nearly the top of the wall. Fearing a serious accident, a man who saw the water rising tried to loosen a few bricks. The wall, however, fell, and the immense volume of water rushed down Westgate and Church Street, doing much damage, and eventually found escape into the river. The leaders of a coach-and-four coming up Westgate at the time turned round to bolt, and there was a narrow escape of the coach and its contents being overturned.