Here is a picture of the floods afflicting the central English town of Tewkesbury this weekend (and continuing today). I couldn’t help but be struck by one overriding idea(aside that is from the very sad tragedy that has struck the townspeople…). 

Do you see anything unusual about the picture? (Click on it to see it full size). See any clue to what might be going on in this medieval town of Tewkesbury?

Do you notice how most of the central, older part of town, is above water? It is barely above water, but nevertheless, you have to admit that it is sitting proudly amid the incredible flood carnage all around. Look at the church. The water laps up to the side chapel, but mostly it is dry. Look at the left hand side, at what looks like a graveyard. Entirely dry. Look to the right, at what I presume is the older parts of town: dry! (Or, at least, it appears to be dry).

This is not coincidence. It is because the medieval builders of Tewkesbury knew what they were doing. They paid attention to the flood patterns locally. They didn’t expect to build a house on a flood plain and get away with it. Nor were they arrogant enough to think they could fight the floods with barriers and human engineering.

I remember as a child visiting my grandfather’s birthplace in Roscommon, in a place called, appropriately enough, Newtownflood. The thing is, the land around it flooded every year, like clockwork, hence the name. But the house itself never did. Never. It was build on a slight rise, a tiny hillock, probably no more than six feet above the water, but nevertheless, enough.

We have something important to learn from previous generations.



  1. David said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    We do have something to learn, but we prefer to ignore it.

    Two words:

    San Francisco

  2. shazgood said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Ah, San Francisco. I love that city! I had the great luck and good fortune to be sent over for work purposes perhaps 7 or 8 times, from 1998 to circa 2003. I loved the buzz, the great variety of food, the weather (not always great, but pretty good!), and the people. I know an Irish guy living there too. Funny, but we never mentioned the dreaded “E” word.

    On a global scale, the English floods are a wake-up call for us all. It will happen more and more frequently, so we better get prepared!

  3. David said,

    July 26, 2007 at 2:03 am

    Or Los Angeles. That one big “E” and those cities are 9/11 times ten to the fifth. Yet those skyscrapers spring forth like the second-cut fields of hay. The sea levels are rising. I think it’s probably too late to reverse the trends of climate change. We’ve just pumped too much smoke into the sky for the past 200 years.

    Sorry, but I’m not a fan of cities. In my youth I did love a city a little, and that was Portland, Oregon. My dreams take me there a few times a year to this day, some 30 years after I left (and never returned). But cities and densely populated suburbs just wig me out now. Too much chaos in too little space.

    Found my little hillock and keeping dry so far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: