Has the British weather always been bad?

The British climate today may be notoriously awful but, in truth, it is by no means catastrophically so.

Has the British weather always been bad? © Getty Images

There have, however, been times in history when the weather has fluctuated to extremes.


During the third millennium BC, a period of increased warmth, reduced cloud cover and relatively few storms seems to have produced bumper harvests, while a similar stint in the first century AD attracted the attentions of the Roman Empire.

The worst periods of hostile weather often follow a major volcanic event. Of particular note was 1816, the ‘year without summer’ when, after Mount Tambora erupted in Indonesia, volcanic dust blocked the Sun, generating near-incessant rainfall that caused harvests to fail and livestock to die.


On the brighter side, the yellowy-tinge to the evening skies may have inspired some of JMW Turner’s most-celebrated paintings.

This article was first published in the September 2015 issue of History Revealed and answered by one of our Q&A experts, Miles Russell.