St Swithun's Day

Not only is today Hampshire Day, but it's also St Swithun’s Day!

St Swithun was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester for the final 10 years of his life, before his death in 863, and later became patron of Winchester Cathedral.

During his life, Swithun was famous for charitable gifts and building churches. One of the most well-known parts of his legend claims that he miraculously repaired a basket of broken eggs after taking pity on the woman who had been carrying them.

Pencil and crayon drawing. 'St. Swithun's Bridge' by C.B. Phillips. 1902. From the Hampshire Cultural Trust collections

On his death bed, Swithun asked to be buried outside the north wall of the cathedral, where passers-by could walk over his grave and rain could fall on it, however his bones were later dug up and placed inside a precious reliquary. In the 11th century, they were placed in a shrine inside the new Norman cathedral. Unfortunately, the shrine of St Swithun was destroyed in 1538 during the Reformation under Henry VIII. However, Swithun’s legacy lives on in churches dedicated to him throughout the south of England, especially in Hampshire.

Design, watercolour, stained glass window, St Swithun's Church, Winchester, Hampshire, by James Powell and Sons, Whitefriars Glass Works, London, 1910. From the Hampshire Cultural Trust collections

Legend has it that if it rains on St Swithun’s Day, then it will rain for the next 40 days, as described in the rhyme:

St Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mare

Did you know:

  • St Swithun’s Day is also celebrated in Norway but on 2 July.
  • St Swithun’s day is mentioned in the TV series Frasier, The Sopranos and The Simpsons!

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Hampshire Cultural Trust

From museums to galleries to arts centres, we manage and support 23 attractions across the county, welcoming over 740,000 people each year. Our charitable purpose is changing lives through culture.
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