St Swithin’s Day

Well we are all not enjoying the wettest summer on record here in the UK. It is a freak, an anomaly, a terrible warning from God that we are messing about too much with our environment and we are doomed to a watery grave? Or is the fault of Old St Swithin?
Rain has stopped play this summer in the UK
St. Swithin’s Day is 15 July and people watch the weather (like they don’t on every other day in Britain) as tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin’s Day, it will continue so for the next forty days. 
St Swithin – stony faced at the weather..

There is a weather-rhyme is well known throughout the British Isles since Elizabethan times.

image: cathedral
Swithin’s Gaff

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

 St. Swithin was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester and apparently  he was one of those miracle working types who were the Elizabethan equivalent of the X factor now. It was all the entertainment they had bless them. Well, actually, he was a Bishop so he did bless them..

Walking on water in Goole, Yorkshire – St Swithin would have approved

Legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden on and rained on. (God knows why)  For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 1971. According to legend there was a tremendously heavy rain storm during the ceremony which seems to have started the story. Hmmm, the seventies were a bit grim come to think of it. 
This led to the old wives’ tale that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.
However, according to the Met Office, this old wives’ tale is nothing other than a myth. Apparently it has been put to the test on 55 occasions, when it has been wet on St Swithin’s Day and 40 days of rain did not follow. So there.
There may be a meteorological explanation however. Martin Blundell one astute weather watcher noted:

“Have you noticed that some English summers are consistently hot and dry, while others are miserable? By the middle of July, one of two patterns often sets in, with Atlantic weather systems either passing to the North of the UK or directly across it. I remember some wonderful summers, but I took my American wife to England for three years from 1985 to 1988 and she now believes the sun never shines there. I think the rhyme, like much UK weather lore, helps to record and pass on the vagaries of British weather.”
Martin Blundell

My personal opinion is that we had a Sod’s Law day back in April and that explains why it has never stopped raining since. We’ll see.