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Porlock, Somerset

Historical Description

Porlock, a village and a parish in Somerset. The village stands on a rapid rivulet, about a mile from the shore of Porlock Bay, and 6 miles W of Minehead station on the G.W.R. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Taunton. Porlock is environed by a fertile vale, overhung by an amphitheatre of The Exmoor Hills; was known to the Saxons as Porteloca; was an important place, perhaps a seat of kings, in the Saxon times; was attacked by Danish pirates in 918, and burned by Harold in 1052; retains, to the .S of its church, remains of a camp formed by Harold. Agriculture, fishing, and a tannery work are the principal industries of the parish, but it is a favourite resort of summer and autumn visitors. The poet Southey made a sojourn here, and while staying at the Ship Inn wrote a sonnet containing the lines:-" Porlock! thy verdant vale, so fair to sight, Thy lofty hills -which fern and furze embrown, Thy waters that roll musically down, Thy woody glens, the traveller with delight Becalls to memory."

The parish contains also the hamlets of West Porlock, Porlock Weir, part of Bossington and Yearnor; extends some distance along the coast, and has a port or quay, with a little trade, 1½ mile from the village. Acreage, 4665; population of the civil parish, 708; of the ecclesiastical, 814. There is a parish council consisting of six members. Ashley Combe is a seat of the Earl of Lovelace. Porlock Bay is a slight encurvature 4½ miles wide, and is overhung by cliffs in some parts 300 feet high. The parish gives name to a breed of small sheep. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Bath and Wells; gross value, £380 with residence. Patron, the Lord Chancellor. The church is ancient but interesting. It was restored in 1889, and contains a grand old monument of the fourth Baron Harrington and his wife, and several other monuments. There is a Wesleyan chapel.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySomersetshire 
Ecclesiastical parishPorlock St. Dubritius 
Poor Law unionWilliton 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records, in association with Somerset Archives & Local Studies, have images of the Parish Registers for Somerset online.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Porlock from the following:


Online maps of Porlock are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Somerset papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Somersetshire, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.

DistrictWest Somerset
RegionSouth West
Postal districtTA24
Post TownMinehead