There are places in the world where a centenary would seem like a respectable anniversary in historic terms – others might boast something 500 years old or even 1,000 – but how many communities can come together to celebrate something that happened 1,400 years ago?
Not many. But then, there aren’t many places like historic Porlock on Exmoor’s lonely coast.
A lot of people have fallen in love with the village since the year 612AD which was the year that St Dubricius ascended from this mortal coil to a better place – and, if Porlockians are honest, no one really knows whether or not this Welsh holy-man ever did cross the Bristol Channel to the Somerset coast or not…
But what the good people of Porlock do know is that the late lamented saint gave his name to their splendid and ancient church – and the folk of the beautiful vale are not the kind to let an anniversary pass by unnoticed.
After all, this is the village whose visitor centre invented a thing called the annual Rutting Weekend – which has nothing whatsoever to do with the “adult weekends” staged at Butlin’s in neighbouring Minehead and everything to do with the annual mating season of wild red stags.
So today, to mark the passing of their patron saint 1,400 years ago, the people of Porlock will begin a four-day long celebration of the life and times of the Bishop of Llandaff, otherwise known as St Dubricius.
“We are celebrating the 1,400th anniversary by retelling his story, why he is the patron saint here in Porlock,” said Denise Sage, who helps run the visitor centre. “We’re showing a film made by children from the local school of Dubricius arriving by boat.”
A month ago pupils from aptly-named St Dubricius School filmed a re-enactment of their patron saint arriving at Porlock Weir’s harbour in a coracle. On Saturday celebrations continue when a ‘Mummers’ Play’ will be performed through the village and there will be evensong in the church that bears his name with the adult choir from Wells Cathedral. On Sunday, Bishop of Bath and Wells Peter Price will take Holy Communion under St Dubricius’ venerable roof.