The worst flooding in 60 years unfurled across Britain in July, blackening medieval towns with power cuts, turning streets into gutters and paradoxically leaving some 350,000 people without running water. In Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, water spilled into the Norman abbey for the first time since 1760, as the town was transformed into an island.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown linked the rain to climate change, while some meteorologists said it was triggered by a change in the position of the polar jet stream that brings wet air over the Atlantic. Whatever the cause, many responded with the resilience on which the British pride themselves. One sign outside an Oxford pub vowed: open for business come hell or high water.