MSO7874 - St Dubricius' Church, Porlock (Building)


Porlock church contains remains of 13th Century work in various areas and fragments of an Anglo-Saxon cross, of Bath Stone. The octagonal font is 15th Century. The top of the spire is thought to have blown of in the storm of 1703.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

[SS 8864 4666] Church (NR) - Church (NR) [1] Porlock Church, dedicated to St. Dubricius, was probably built about 1120 to commemorate the removal of the saint's remains from the Isle of Bardsey to Llandaff. The east tower and wooden framework of the spire date from the E. 13th c., and there are remains of 13th cent. Work in the S. aisle wall. The arcade dates from c. 1400 and the porch and nave windows are 15th cent. A fragment of a pre-Norman cross-shaft with interlaced ornament is preserved in the church. A large and costly Chantry tomb for Lord Harington (d. 1417) and his widow, Elizabeth Courtenay (d. 1472) stands under one of the aisle arches, but was not thought to be its original position. [2] A description of the clock in the church was published in 1931. It was still going in about 1880 but was superceded at the Victoria Jubilee. It was then moved to stand under the tower, and some parts had become detached. [3] The church is in normal use. A small fragment of Saxon cross, longest side 0.25 metres. is built into the west wall of the south aisle (see G.P. AO/65/176/3 - [29]). [4] Lesser hospital listed at Porlock. There were two chantries in the parish church in 1548 with one chaplain and two poor men 'remaynint ther, by the fundacon'. [5] Description of church. There are two small fragments of a Saxon cross shaft in the west wall, of Bath Stone. [6, 18] Church of St. Dubricious, 13th and 15th Century. Nave, chancel, south aisle, porch with parvise, unbuttressed west tower with truncated oak-shingled broach spire. Triple-lancet east window, other windows Perpendicular. Interior has fragment (in south aisle) of pre-Norman cross with interlaced ornament, 15th Century octagonal stone font, canopied table monument to John, 4th. Baron of Harington (temp. Hen. V.) and his wife Elizabeth, cross-legged stone effigy of Sir Simon Fitz-Rogers temp. Richard I.) [7] HIGH STREET (South side) Church of St Dubricius GV I Parish church. C13 tower, late C13-early C14 south arcade, C15 porch and east vestry or sacristy added, 1703 spire damaged, 1769 screen removed, 1889 tower restored, 1890 organ chamber added, 1892 church restored and choir stalls added from designs of J D Sedding, 1901 further alterations including stained glass by E Buckle. West tower, 4-bay nave and south aisle, south chapel, north porch, north-east choir vestry with organ chamber, chancel with south east priest's vestry. Blue lias and red sandstone random rubble, Ham stone dressings, organ chamber with squared and coursed sandstone above string course, snecked granite below slate roof with slight bell-cast, coped verges, wooden shingles on tower roof. Two stage tower, stepped diagonal buttresses rising half a stage, octagonal broached spire, wooden shingles, 4 gabled dormers, truncated top, tall lancet west window, west door; 3-light west window in south aisle, three 2-light windows, 3 full height stepped buttresses, 3-light east window to aisle, grotesque gargoyle at junction with chancel, chancel 2-light south window, 3-light untraceried lancet window east end, vestry chamfered pointed arch doorway, 3-light window right, lancet to 1890 addition, north wall of nave 2-light windows flanking inserted C19 window left of stair projection, another 2-light window to right of 2-storey, gabled porch with clasping buttresses, blind niche and inserted trefoil headed lancet above pointed arch opening, inserted lancet on left return first floor, holy water stoop to left of chamfered pointed arch doorway, door erected 1953 in memory of Queen Elizabeth's Coronation, Perpendicular tomb chest resited from churchyard on east wall, quatrefoil decoration with Instruments of the Passion.Interior: rendered, exposed quoins to openings. Five bay arcade of octagonal piers, pointed arch openings chamfered in 2 orders. No chancel arch, corbelled truss; pointed chamfered tower arch, C19 panelled oak screen. Late C19 roofs: ceiled wagon roof in chancel, rafter roof in nave and aisle, latter with remains of original wall plate on south wall, ceiled roof to chapel. Low trefoil-headed opening to rood stair door opposite third pier from chancel with roof loft opening in spandrel. Trefoil-headed piscina in chancel; 4-centred chamfered arch openings to priest's vestry from chancel, to blocked south aisle entrance, and to parvise stairway, 2-light cinquefoil headed window in north chancel wall above Perpendicular tomb-chest ornamented with shields, trefoil headed niches flanking circular panels with trefoils. It is thought that the 2 tomb chests in porch and chancel are those mentioned in the will of Alice Hensley dated 1527. Aumbry in south chapel, with very fine canopy tomb with alabaster effigies of Lord Harrington, died 1417, and his wife, both defaced with inscriptions. Two moulded segmental headed tomb recesses in south wall, one empty, other with reset effigy of cross legged knight, late C13. Perpendicular octagonal font with C19 font cover. Two small incised pieces of Saxon cross set in west end wall. Reredos by W H R Blacking dated 1931. Rare pre-pendulum clock thought to be c1400-50 at west end. Large panels of tinted glass with a floral design similar to Church of St Mary (qv) Luccombe CP give a pleasing effect. Tower said to contain C17 ladder to bell chamber. Rare dedication to St Dubricius, the C6 Welsh saint. (Photographs in NMR) [8-9, 22] Additional Bibliography. [10-15] Full description of the 8th-10th century fragment. This has been described as a cross fragment, but it could equally be a part of a grave-cover. [16] The altar rails of the church were given in memory of the parishioners who died in World War One. There is an associated nowy-headed plaque and the names of the 24 fallen are recorded on the south wall of the church. A two light stained glass window and associated tablet commemorates 14 parishioners lost in World War One. The left hand light depicts two female figures, one kneeling. The right hand light depicts Christ. [17] During the early part of the 15th Century the wall of the south aisle was raised and the then existing lean-to roof replaced by a waggon roof (the present roof is a reconstruction in conformity with the original design. The church was in bad structural repair in 1888 and restoration started in May 1890. The walls were straightened as far as possible, the nave roof was entirely renewed, the arch at the west end of the nave, which had been closed up during the 18th Century to permit tiers of seats to be erected against it, was opened up and the organ chamber and choir vestry constructed. The font which stood formerly in the south aisle east of the south door was placed in its present position at this time. [19] Complex plan. Stone, Ashlar, Random rubble walls. Wagon, Gabled roof [24] The Parish Church of St. Dubricius is the only grade I building in the conservation area. Much of the building, including the tower mainly dates from the 13th-early 14th century, with a 15th century porch. In 1769 the medieval screen was removed. There was a major restoration to the designs of J.D. Sedding in the late 19th Century with stained glass by E. Buckle. The tower is said to contain a 17th century ladder to the bell chamber, and the truncated shingled spire is generally thought to have suffered damage during the extreme storm of 1703, recorded by Daniel Defoe. There are several important memorials representing important local families. Two tomb chests in the porch and chancel are mentioned in the will of Alice Harington dated 1527. The reredos of 1931 by W.H.R.Blacking is described as “not without a touch of the Voysey style.” [25] St Dubricious was previously known as St Deveroe, with the Welsh knowing him as Dyfrig. He is thought to have been born c. AD450 in Madley, six miles west of Hereford. He is said to have crowned King Arthur and married him to Queen Guinevere. He was later a hermit on Bardsey Island and died c. AD546. Corner suggests the church may have been founded by him, or someone in close association with him. It is believed the Fitz Roges family were the builders of the present church. A clock in the church, thought to date from the 1400s (one of the oldest in England), was taken down from the tower at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, when the present clock was installed. It has neither face nor hands but struck the hour on the tenor bell. The top of the church spire is said to have been blown off in a gale c. 1700. The spire was restored in 1884 (including having the oak shingles replaced) and the church closed for refurbishment between 1890 and 28 May 1891, which was undertaken by Messrs Cooksley and Huish. The spire was again re-shingled in 1933. The earliest part of the church dates from the thirteenth century. Probably rebuilt by Sir Simon Fitzroges about 1300. His effigy is in the church. St Dubricius was a Welsh saint and it seems very likely that West Somerset was Christianised from Wales. Probably the church was built on the same site as used for pagan worship. [26] It has been hypothesised that the cross fragments may indicate a Saxon precursor for the church. Porlock was attacked in 1052, as noted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and so may have had a chapel or church. The dedication to St Dubricius is curious. The Rev W Hook thought it may have been the result of the translation of the saint's bones from Bardsey Island to Llandaff circa 1120, but that doesn't explain any connection with Porlock. A connection with the living saint or one of his disciples in the 6th or subsequent centuries is more probable, such as a monastic settlement or oratory at Porlock. [27 The building was visited in March 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 6. [28] The north doorway dates from the 13th Century with the porch and parvise chamber (used by the Chantry priests to keep vestments and other valuables) above added in the 15th Century. The parvise chamber was used to teach poor children to read and write in the 18th Century until the village school was built, and was reached by an outside staircase. The font is 15th Century. The clock may date to between 1400 and 1450 and was in use until Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It has neither face nor hands but struck the hours on the tenor bell. The tower contains the choir vestry and the bell ringers' gallery above it. The east window, south doorway and a double piscina on the south wall of the sanctuary are Early English. Two tombs were left undert the will of Alice Hensley in 1527. The alabaster Harington Memorial commemorates John, 4th Lord Harington and his wife Elizabeth Courtenay, and was constructed in 1474. The associated Chantry was served by monks from Cleeve Abbey, who lived in Chantry Cottage. Some stones in the North Porch, arch over the north doorway and the northwest wall show signs of burning, supposedly from buildings destroyed when Harold sailed up the Bristol Channel in 1052 and sacked and burnt the village of Porlock. [30] A trade directory states that a school was possibly held in the 'parvis' room over the porch in Porlock. [31] A collection of postcards show various views of the interior and exterior of the church taken in the early 1900s. [32-38] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [39] The building is labelled "St Dubricius's" on the 2022 MasterMap data. [40]

Sources/Archives (41)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1931. 6 Inch Map: 1931. 1:10560.
  • <2> Article in serial: Hook, W.. 1889. Porlock Church. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 35. Part I, pp 25-31. pp25-31.
  • <3> Article in serial: Allen, F.J.. 1931. The disused ancient clock in Porlock Church: A striking clock without face or hands. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Nat. 77. Part II, pp 59-62.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigators Comments. GH Pitcher, F1, 9 July 1965.
  • <5> Serial: Somerset Record Society [series] . Volume 2 (1888), p49.
  • <6> Monograph: Knowles, D. + Hadcock, R.N.. 1971. Medieval Religious Houses England and Wales. 330, 386.
  • <7> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. p275.
  • <8> Serial: 1906. Kellys Directory.
  • <9> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . MHLG (Prov List) Williton RD, Somerset (Mar 1962) p62.
  • <10> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . DOE (Prov List) West Somer Dist (Exford et al) Somerset (2 Jan 1986) 30.
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. Porlock Church (Christopherson, D).
  • <12> Monograph: Hook, W.. 1893. A history of the ancient church of Porlock and of the Patron St. Dubricius and his times.
  • <13> Serial: Antiquity Publications Limited. 1927 -. Antiquity. Volume 7 (1883), 249 (H Hayman).
  • <14> Article in serial: Anonymous. 1906. Porlock Church. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Nat. 52. Part I, pp 28-31.
  • <15> Monograph: Collinson, J.. 1791 (2006). The History and Antiquities of Somerset. Archive CD Books Ltd. p38-40.
  • <16> Monograph: Cramp, R.. 2006. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture. Oxford University Press. Volume VII.
  • <17> Website: Imperial War Museum. United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials. UKNIWM references 24764-7.
  • <18> Article in serial: Foster, S. 1987. A gazeteer of the Anglo-Saxon sculpture in historic Somerset. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 131. p49-80.
  • <19> Article in serial: Notes on the Parish church of St Dubricius. B.J.A.M.
  • <20> Map: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1965. SS84NE. 3.
  • <21> Monograph: Allen, N.V.. 1974. Churches and Chapels of Exmoor. Exmoor Press.
  • <22> Index: 2/1/1986. Thirty-fifth List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, District of West Somerset (Somerset)/Exmoor National Park.
  • <23> Unassigned: Webster CJ, Historic Environment Record. 2005. Staff Comments, Somerset County Council.
  • <24> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records.
  • <25> Report: Fisher, J.. 2002. Porlock: Conservation Area Character Appraisal. p7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 19.
  • <26> Monograph: Corner, Dennis. 1992. Porlock in Those Days. Exmoor Books. p14, 16-19, 90.
  • <27> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <28> Report: Pratt, N.. 2013. Porlock Conservation Area: Appraisal Document. Exmoor National Park Authority. 23, 76, Figures 1, 20.
  • <30> Leaflet: Beasley, R. and Beasley, J.. Unknown. St Dubricius Church, Porlock: Guide book. Unknown.
  • <31> Monograph: Villiers, S.. 2012. Village schooling in Somerset: Learn 'em hard. Ryelands.. 1st Edition. 81.
  • <32> Photograph: F Frith and Company Limited. 1900-1925. The Harrington Monument in St Dubricius's Church. Unknown. Postcard.
  • <33> Photograph: F Frith and Company Limited. 1900-1925. St Dubricius's Church, taken from High Street in the northView looking along the path to the door in the north porch of St Dubricius's Church, taken from the north. Unknown. Postcard.
  • <34> Photograph: F Frith and Company Limited. 1900-1925. St Dubricius's Church, taken from High Street in the north. Unknown. Postcard.
  • <35> Photograph: F Frith and Company Limited. 1900-1925. St Dubricius's Church, taken from High Street in the north-west. Unknown. Postcard.
  • <36> Photograph: F Frith and Company Limited. 1900-1925. St Dubricius's Church, taken looking past the church cross from the graveyard in the north-east. Unknown. Postcard.
  • <37> Photograph: F Frith and Company Limited. 1900-1925. General view of Porlock with Hurlstone Point in the background and St Dubricius's Church central, taken looking down on the town from the south-west. Unknown. Postcard.
  • <38> Photograph: F Frith and Company Limited. 1900-1925. Interior view looking down the nave to the altar in St Dubricius's Church. Unknown. Postcard.
  • <39> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35837, Extant 3 February 2022.
  • <40>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2022. MasterMap data. 1:2,500. [Mapped feature: #47828 ]
  • <41> Index: Charterhouse Environs Research Team. 2012. The CHERT Index of the Drawings and Sketches of the Reverend John Skinner. Vol 18 (1836 Devonshire), pages 81-84.

External Links (6)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 1076/24/55
  • Church Heritage Record ID: 601475
  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 2 fluvial
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 2 fluvial
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10688
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12040
  • Local Heritage List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NE3
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35837
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33948
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33952
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 31182
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34887



Grid reference Centred SS 8863 4666 (34m by 18m)
Map sheet SS84NE

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Record last edited

May 18 2023 5:48PM


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