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St Swithin’s Day: Can Britain look forward to 40 days of sunshine?

Not quite, but temperatures will head towards 30C before the weekend

Legend has it that sunshine on St Swithin’s Day will mean unending clear skies for the next 40 days, and with today reaching highs of 25C, the outlook is certainly promising.

The myth of St Swithin’s Day forecasts that if there is rain on 15 July then there will be rain for 40 days thereafter, but if there is sunshine instead, then good weather will ensue.

Followers of the legend can rejoice in today’s weather predictions, as much of the country is expected to stay warm, dry and sunny, while temperatures will hit nearly 30C later in the week.

The Met Office said it will feel warm in the sunshine today, with much of the country reaching at least 20C, and London seeing highs of 25C.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week will see temperatures edge upwards from 26C through to 27C and nearly 30C on Friday, which will cause areas to feel increasingly humid in the south of England.

But it there will not be sunshine everywhere; on Wednesday rain is expected in western Scotland, Northern Ireland and eventually North West England.

Heavy showers are expected in isolated central parts of England and Wales on Thursday, with an increasing risk on thundery showers heading northwards on Friday during the hot weather.

In terms of the legend of St Swithin’s, the next 40 days will not see Britons enduring absolute rain or sunshine.

But the Met Office states that in fact, since records began in 1861, there has never been a record of 40 dry or 40 wet days in a row following St Swithin’s Day.

The legend itself stems from the afterlife of Saint Swithin, a monk who died around 862 AD. He is supposed to have requested to be buried in the churchyard of the Old Minster at Winchester, in a spot where his grave would be rained on.

When, on 15 July, his remains were moved inside the cathedral, the spirit of Saint Swithin is said to have become so outraged that it rained for 40 days straight.