Q&A: Who was St Swithin?

If there’s rain on St Swithin’s day, 15 July, it will continue for 40 more – or so the proverb goes. But who was St Swithin? BBC History Revealed explains more…

St Swithin (or Swithun). (Image by Alamy)

More than 100 years after Swithin, the Bishop of Winchester, died on 2 July, between AD 861 and 863, he was adopted as patron of the restored cathedral. New biographies talked of his great deeds, piety and miracles – such as restoring a basket of broken eggs dropped by a woman who’d been jostled by workmen.

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Swithin is said to have asked to be buried where raindrops from the church’s eaves would fall. This made him a popular saint in times of drought. An old proverb claims if there’s rain on St Swithin’s day, 15 July, it will continue for 40 more.

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This Q&A first appeared in BBC History Revealed in 2016. Explore more answers to historical questions.