On this day in 1549, the boy-King, Edward VI wrote in his journal:
“I went to Deptford, being bidden to supper by the lord Clinton … . After … was there a fort made upon a great lighter on the Thames …, of which Mr. Winter was captain, with forty or fifty other soldiers … . To the fort also appertained a galley … , … for defence … . Wherefore there came 4 pinnaces … , which … with clods, squibs, canes of fire, darts … and bombards, assaulted the castle; and at length … burst the outer walls of the castle, beating them of the castle into the second ward, who after issued out and drove away the pinnaces, sinking one of them, out of which all the men in it … leaped out, and swam in the Thames. Then came th’ admiral of the navy and three pinnaces, and won the castle by assault, and burst the top of it down, and took the captain … ”.
Astrologers predicted that on this day in 1524, because of a Grand Conjunction of all seven major planets, “the waters of the Thames would swell to such a height as to overflow the whole city of London, and wash away ten thousand houses” (among other things). Heeding the warning, broadcast far and wide in print, many thousands of the city’s inhabitants withdrew to high dry ground, as at Hampstead and Highgate to the north and Blackheath to the south (it is said that William Bolton, the Prior of St Bartholomew’s, took refuge in a specially constructed and provisioned tower at his residence in Harrow). Needless to say, in the event, the predicted tidal wave never materialised.
On a more-or-less related note, on this day in 1953, there was a terrible flood in the Thames Estuary that drowned hundreds of people. Also, on this day in 1983, the Thames Barrier was raised for the first time.