The weather brought blizzard conditions to Essex in January 1881 and the railway route through Witham was so badly effected that it took 100 men a total of 24 hours to clear the line. In 1983, the warm weather in July led to the highest average temperature to be measured since the 17th century at 27C. For Witham, it was the driest summer weather since 1921. In January 1990, stormy weather was so severe that the entire thatched roof of the Cart Lodge at Cressing Temple Barns was blown off.
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Evidence of Neolithic settlement in Witham has been found in recent excavations. Witham's modern foundation, however, is because of its position on the Roman road between London and Colchester. The parish of Witham appears in the Domesday Book and, in 1148, the Manor of Witham was given to the Knights Templar. The nearby Cressing Temple Barns are testament to their influence. The modern town was originally called 'Chipping Hill' and was the location of a local forge and parish church (both of which are still evident today). Witham was the centre of the wool trade in the area until the decline of the industry in the 17th century and has enjoyed a short period as a spa town in the 18th century. In 1905, Witham was the scene of the worst rail accident in the history of Essex when an express train became derailed whilst moving through the station at speed killing 11 people and seriously injuring 71 passengers. Witham has grown most rapidly since World War 2, as a result of the London over-spill policy, with three major council housing estates being built and a great deal of other residential development. Witham is a popular commuter town for London because of its good links by rail and road.
Notable author Dorothy L Sayers lived in Witham and has the local library named after her. John Strutt, 3rd Baron of Rayleigh, Nobel Prize winning physicist who discovered the chemical element Argon, died in the town in 1919. More recently, Olly Murs, who was runner up in the X-Factor and now has a successful recording and television career, was born in Witham.