Will the St Swithin’s Day prophecy disrupt the hot summer of 2018?

Westbury investigates this 1,000-year-old legend and advises on what to do to ensure your conservatory/garden room/orangery stays beautifully comfortable no matter what the weather brings.

Legend has it, that if it rains here in the UK on the 15th of July, then it will rain for the rest of the summer.

This cheerful prophecy came into being 1,000 years ago, in 971, when St Swithin’s remains were moved from his humble grave into a shrine built into Winchester Cathedral. Following the transference of his bones, a terrible storm ensued which lasted for 40 days and 40 nights, giving rise to the story that the storm was a reflection of his anger over the desecration of his remains.

Although very few people actually believe in the myth, a spokesman from the Royal Meteorological Society notes that there is actually some method to the madness:

“The middle of July tends to be around the time that the jet stream settles into a relatively consistent pattern. If the jet stream lies north of the UK throughout the summer, continental high pressure is able to move in, bringing warmth and sunshine. If it sticks further south, Arctic air and Atlantic weather systems are likely to predominate, bringing colder, wetter weather.”  

International Business Times

The RMS also notes that there has never been a summer on record in the UK where it has rained consecutively for 40 days and 40 nights – although in this country it can often feel like it.

However, summer 2018 is also shaping up to be hotter and drier than the average, with forecasters comparing it to 2013 and 2016, with long spells of sunshine forecast and at least 8 periods that can be categorised as ‘heatwaves’.

Although these hotter periods are considered to be somewhat exceptional in this country, they should still be planned for when thinking about a glass conservatory, orangery or garden room extension to ensure that this space can also act as a haven from the heat and sun’s powerful rays, whilst still providing the levels of light into our homes that we all aspire to.

In order to achieve a comfortable and fully functional garden room extension/glass conservatory/orangery at any time of the year, Westbury recommends considering the following when planning a glazed extension:

  • Have a clear idea of the purpose of the glass conservatory and what activities will take place in the room and at what times of day
  • Consider who will be using the room: young children, adults, pets etc. The more information the homeowner can feed to the designer the better the outcome will be
  • The location of a glass conservatory is paramount and can dramatically impact on the temperature in the room. A homeowner with a choice of locations available would do best to construct on a south facing outer wall to attract more sunshine
  • Shade is imperative to keep a south facing glass conservatory cool and if you do not have the advantage of natural shade, one solution is to apply high quality film to the windows (SN70). This works by not only reflecting the heat from the sun but also nearly all of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays – which causes the fading of furniture and carpets
  • In the summer, ventilation is another crucial consideration for keeping a glass conservatory cool. It is essential that air is able to flow through the building and that colder air can be drawn into the conservatory

The main ways to design a garden room/glass conservatory/orangery that stays cool in summer are:

  • The right amount of roof vents
  • Ceiling fans
  • Applied film (this works by reflecting heat from the sun and nearly all of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays)
  • Large flat ceilings with the right amount of insulation
  • Generously sized doors

Indeed, it is quite common for poorly constructed conservatories to reach up to 40 degrees Celsius if the temperature spikes in the summer weather have not been planned for.

However, with the right planning and attention to design, glass conservatories, garden room extensions and orangeries are the ideal space from which to watch the erratic nature of the British weather play out in all of its changeable glory.

If you’re considering investing in a glazed extension to enjoy future summers in, take a look at our case studies for some inspiration or order your brochure here.