When The Thames Froze Over: The ‘Little Ice Age’ Thames Frost Fairs

Just History Posts

Between roughly 1300 – 1850, the world experienced the ‘Little Ice Age’, where there was significant cooling in global temperatures. Temperatures and the effects varied from region to region and year to year, but there were 3 significant intervals of particular cold, c. 1650, c. 1770, and c. 1850. In England, this resulted in particularly cold winters which caused many hardships for its citizens. However, between 1400 and 1835, this also resulted in at least 24 winters where the River Thames froze over which led to merriment for all.

During this period, there were numerous factors which contributed to the freezing of the Thames beyond just the lower temperatures. The Thames was wider, as it had not yet been embanked, meaning it was both shallower and flowed slower. Moreover, old London Bridge was supported with closely spaced piers and timber casings which made for narrow arches for the water to…

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