In the middle of the 14th century the Black Death reached Preston and killed up to 3,000 people in the parish, (although the accuracy of this figure is open to question). The first cases were recorded at the beginning of September 1349, the last in early January 1350. It took just three months for this brutal plague to carry off as much as half the population of the town.
No less brutal was the sacking and burning of Preston by marauding Scots led by Robert the Bruce in 1322, one of several such raids the county was suffering at that time. And brutal indeed was the Little Ice Age that descended on Europe at the beginning of the century, wrecking harvests and issuing in years of recurring famines, the worst of which came in 1315. Not surprising then that Barbara Tuchman should write in her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, that, ‘A physical chill settled on the 14th century at its very start, initiating the miseries to come.’