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Project Britain
Folklore Calendar
stories, sayings, customs
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A month by month of forgotten legends and pastimes from Britain's folk history
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Facts about July
Customs and Traditions

Gemstone: Ruby
Flower: Larkspur


July is one of the hottest months of the year. It is nearly the end of the school year and summer holidays are near.

July is the seventh month of the year according to the Gregorian calendar. It was the fifth month in the early calendar of the ancient Romans. The Romans called the month Quintilius, which means fifth. A Roman Senate renamed the month to Julius (July) in honour of Julius Caesar, who was born on 12 July.

The Anglo-Saxon names for the month included Heymonath or Maed monath, referring respectively to haymaking and the flowering of meadows.

All year round Crop Circles

July is the month when circular flattened patches begin to appear in fields of standing corn.


This phenomenon dates from early 1970s, although there are isolated earlier examples.

All year round Weather-lore, beliefs and sayings

'If the first of July it be rainy weather,
'Twill rain more or less for four weeks together.'


All year round Festivals and Traditions

Henley Royal Regatta

Takes place during the first week of July on a stretch of the River Thames at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. The Regatta began in 1839 with a single afternoon of rowing races and now lasts for five days.

Swan Upping

The census of swans takes place annually during July on the River Thames in a ceremony known as Swan Upping. Swans are counted and marked on a 70 mile, five day journey up the River Thames.

Swan UppingSwan Upping
swan uppingSwan Upping

Click here to find out more

St Swithin's Day

St Swithin's Day is 15 July, a day on which people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin's Day, it will continue so for the next forty days.

St Swithin's Day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain.
St Swithin's Day. if thou be fair,
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair'

dateHoniton Fair in Devon

This three day fair begins on the first Tuesday after 19 July. The town crier officially opens the fair by parading down the High Street with a golden glove at the end of a long pole decorated with garlands of flowers and announcing:

'Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!
The glove is up!
The fair has begun!
No man shall be arrested until the glove is down.
God save the Queen!'

After this ceremony, hot pennies are thrown to the onlookers from the windows of various pubs and scrambles for by local children. The custom dates back many years to the days long gone when the wealthy of the town would 'aid' the poor.

date Grotto Day

shells25 July is St James' Day (Also known as Grotto Day )

Children used to make grottoes and caves and decorate them with sea shells because the scallop shell is supposed to be the emblem of St. James.

The grottoes were placed outside the homes and the children would sit by them and say:

Please remember the Grotto.
It's only once a year.
Father's gone to sea.
Mother's gone to bring him back,
So please remember me.

dateWhitstable Oyster Festival

oysterThe English Oyster season officially begins on St James' Day.

Whitstable Bay, on the north Kent coast, is famous for its oysters. It has been associated with oysters for hundreds of years. An old Kentish tradition says that Julius Caesar was drawn to Britain by the Whitstable oysters. On St. James's Day the locals hold an annual oyster festival, an event dating back to at least the early 19th century when it was the custom for fishers and dredgers to celebrate with an annual ceremony of thanksgiving.

All year round Anniversaries

1st July 1937 999 emergency service introduced.
1st July 1837 Registration of births, marriages and deaths begins in Britain.
1st July 1997 British rule ended in Hong Kong after 99 years.
2nd July 1928 Equal voting rights are granted to women in Britain.
3rd July 1938 The ‘Mallard’ broke the speed record for steam engines, 126 mph.
12th July Battle of the Boyne – Northern Ireland.
13th July 1985 Live Aid concert, organised by Bob Geldof. Raised money to help people starving in Africa.
13th July National Day – Northern Ireland.
15th July St Swithin's Day. If it rains on St. Swithin’s then there’ll be forty more days of wet weather.
21st July 1837 Euston Railway Station, the first in London, is opened
21st July 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon.
25th July St James’ Day, patron saint of pilgrims. Children used to make little grottoes from scallop shells (the emblem of St. James) or oyster shells.
25th July Whitstable Oyster Festival
25th July St Christopher's Day. Patron Saint of Travellers.
28th July 1586 The first potatoes arrived from Columbia.
28th July 1901 First fingerprints used for identification.

All year round

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Facts and information about LondonBritish Royal FamilyVirtual Tour of the Thames

Special facts and information about each month of the yearInformation on Britain and the UK for Kids of all agesBritish History

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Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
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