Pat Shingleton: "Manure and St. Swithin..."
Supplies in the 16th and 17th Century were transported by ship. One product, needed by agricultural interests, was manure. Collectors would bundle and bale the lighter, dry manure. The bundles were stored below deck for the journey and in the open sea, salt water and storms often soaked cargo in the lower holds. Wet weather returned manure to its original form activating the fermentation process that advanced methane gas. Any ship lantern that was in close proximity to the stowed manure ignited the bales, causing explosions and the ultimate loss of ships. To resolve the problem, the British Admiralty directed sailors to elevate the manure bundles and off the lower decks to eliminate water contact. The decree also insisted that all bundles be stamped with an acronym identifying; Stow High In Transit. Also, the Bishop of Winchester was a Benedictine monk who died on July 2, 862. Upon his death, he requested to be buried outside in order that rain would fall on his grave. His request was not relayed to those in charge of his funeral arrangements in the village of Winchester and he was entombed inside the local cathedral. Reportedly, a lengthy drought immediately began. Citizens remembered his request and in experiencing the dry conditions, the good Bishop was re-interned outside and the drought immediately ended and rain returned for 40 days. The tradition states that if it rains on July 15, St. Swithin's Day, it will rain for 40 days. "St. Swithin's Day if thou dost rain, for 40 days it will remain. St. Swithin's Day if thou be fair, for 40 days 'twill rain nae mair." This seems to be only applicable in England.
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