15 July 2011

St Swithun's Day

Today is St. Swithun's Day and this is St Swithun's shrine in the Cathedral. St Swithun is one of the best known of the many Bishops of Winchester. He was born in Winchester, in about AD 800 and was famous for his charitable gifts, church building and tutoring King Aethelwulf and his son Alfred the Great. Swithun died 862 and was buried outside the Old Minster. Not long after his death there were talks of miracles he performed, his best known was his mending of a basket of eggs that had been broken. He then became Saint Swithun.

The Old Minster was expanded in the tenth century to become Winchester Cathedral, and St Swithun’s relics were moved into it on 15 July 971. This occasion was marked by very heavy rainfall, and the tradition became that if it rains on St Swithun’s Day, it will rain also for the next forty days, as per the rhyme:

St Swithun’s Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
St Swithun’s Day, if it be fair
For forty days, t’will rain no more

Today it is .... Sunny, so fingers crossed it will stay that way for the next 40 days - unlikely though the forecast for the weekend is not good!


  1. A great piece of history! You're talking about people and places from the 800s..... hmmmm, I'm a little embarrassed to say that my city just celebrated its 150th birthday last year!
    Regards from EAGAN daily photo

  2. Never heard of this day, but now I've learned something. I like shots inside churches. THis one seems really bright.

  3. We have plenty of new towns here too, that aren't even as old as Eagan!

  4. Good old Europe...

    Raining pots and buckets here...

  5. Yes, the legend is definitely wrong! It was sunny on St Swithun's Day, but has been raining ever since!