Porlock

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For other uses, see Porlock (disambiguation).
Porlock
Porlockweir.JPG
Porlock Weir
Porlock is located in Somerset
Porlock
Porlock
 Porlock shown within Somerset
Population 1,440 [1]
OS grid reference SS886467
District West Somerset
Shire county Somerset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town MINEHEAD
Postcode district TA24
Dialling code 01643
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Bridgwater and West Somerset
List of places
UK
England
Somerset

Coordinates: 51°12′32″N 3°35′44″W / 51.208796°N 3.595557°W / 51.208796; -3.595557

Porlock is a coastal village and civil parish in Somerset, England, situated in a deep hollow below Exmoor, 5 miles (8 km) west of Minehead. The parish, which includes Hawkcombe and Doverhay, has a population of 1,440.[1]

In a 2010 survey based on data from the Office for National Statistics Porlock was found to have the most elderly population in Britain with over 40% of the population being of pensionable age.[2]

History[edit]

East of the village is Bury Castle, an Iron Age hill fort.

In Domesday Book the village was known as "Portloc".[3]

Porlock was part of the hundred of Carhampton.[4]

The area has links with several Romantic poets, and R. D. Blackmore, the author of Lorna Doone, and is popular with visitors. The visitor centre with exhibits and displays about the local area. Also on display are the bones of an Aurochs, discovered on Porlock beach in 1999.[5]

Governance[edit]

The parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council’s operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council's role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council.

The village falls within the Non-metropolitan district of West Somerset, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Williton Rural District.[6] The district council is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.

Somerset County Council is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.

As Porlock falls within the Exmoor National Park some functions normally administered by district or county councils have, since 1997, fallen under the Exmoor National Park Authority, which is known as a ‘single purpose’ authority, which aims to "conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Parks" and "promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Parks by the public",[7] including responsibility for the conservation of the historic environment.[8]

It is also part of the Bridgwater and West Somerset county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election, and part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.

Geography[edit]

Porlock beach

The village adjoins the Porlock Ridge and Saltmarsh nature reserve, created from the lowland behind a high shingle embankment which was breached by the sea in the 1990s, which has now been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Copses of white dead trees remind the visitor of when this was freshwater pasture.

A stream flows down a wooded combe called Hawkcombe leads about three miles (5 km) from the village up to high open moorland. The stream, called "Hawkcombe Waters", runs past a Victorian hunting lodge, called The Cleeve, then underground beneath the Overstream Hotel in the centre of the village.

The South West Coast Path goes through Porlock, many walkers stopping rather than continuing the long walk to Lynton. There is also a 'Coleridge Way' walk.

Culbone church is said to be the smallest church in England.[9] The main structure is 12th century. Services are still held there, despite the lack of road access – Culbone is a two-mile (3 km) walk from Porlock Weir, and some 3–4 miles (about 6 km) from Porlock itself.

A toll road bypasses the 1 in 4 gradient on Porlock Hill. There is an ancient stone circle on the hill.[10]

Submerged forest[edit]

A map of Porlock from 1937

At low tide the remains of a submerged forest can be seen on Porlock Beach. The area was several miles inland until the sea level in the Bristol Channel rose about 7000 to 8000 years ago.[11]

Church[edit]

The Church of St Dubricius dates from the 13th century. The spire was damaged in a storm of 1703.[3] The church has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.[12] Within the church is a 15th-century tomb of John Harrington who fought alongside Henry V in France in 1417.[13]

Cultural references[edit]

"Person from Porlock"[edit]

Main article: Person from Porlock

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who lived nearby at Nether Stowey (between Bridgwater and Minehead), was interrupted during composition of his poem Kubla Khan by "a person on business from Porlock", and found afterward he could not remember what had come to him in a dream.

Coleridge and William Wordsworth (who lived nearby at Alfoxden) would often roam the hills and coast on long night walks, leading to local gossip that they were 'spies' for the French. The Government sent an agent to investigate, but found they were "mere poets". Their walks are celebrated by the Coleridge Way which ends in Porlock. Their friend Robert Southey published a poem titled "Porlock" in 1798.

William Blake[edit]

Legend has it that the area beyond Culbone towards Lynmouth where Glenthorne is now situated is where Jesus may have alighted on a trip with Joseph of Arimathea. This is said to have inspired a passage from William Blake's famous poem, Milton:

"And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?"

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Statistics for Wards, LSOAs and Parishes — SUMMARY Profiles" (Excel). Somerset Intelligence. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Ramesh, Randeep (26 May 2010). "People in rural areas live longer, says study". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Farr, Grahame (1954). Somerset Harbours. London: Christopher Johnson. p. 154. 
  4. ^ "Carhampton Hundred". Domesday Map. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Porlock Visitor Centre". Everything Exmor. Retrieved 20 February 2008. 
  6. ^ "Williton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Authority". Exmoor National Park. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  8. ^ "Exmoor National Park NMP". English Heritage. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  9. ^ "Parish Churches". Somerset County archives. Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Porlock Circle". megalithic.co.uk. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Geological features". Exmoor National Park. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  12. ^ "Church of St Dubricius". Images of England. Retrieved 20 February 2008. 
  13. ^ Leete-Hodge, Lornie (1985). Curiosities of Somerset. Bodmin: Bossiney Books. p. 45. ISBN 0-906456-98-3. 

External links[edit]