St Swithin's Day, if thou dost rain
Full forty days it will remain
St Swithins Day, if thou be fair
For forty days, twill rain no mair
The 15th of July is the Feast of St Swithin, the most famous of English weather saints, a humble and much beloved Saxon Bishop of Winchester. On his deathbed, he ordered that he should be buried among the poor in the common church yard, 'beneath the feet of passerbys and rain from the eaves.' So many miracles occured at his graveside that the monks moved his remains to a splendid shrine in Winchester Cathedral: whereupon the saint wept in protest, causing a continuous down pour which lasted forty days.
Rain on St Swithin's Day 'blesses and christens the apples' which should not be picked or eaten before his feast; all apples growing at this time will ripen and come to maturity.