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Porlock In-spired: Reshingling iconic grade I listed church spire

— 27 Feb 2024


The much-loved church is prominent in the centre of Porlock


The timber used in 1933 for the oak shakes is known to have been from local woodland, where coppicing was common, which probably explains the use of small shingles


Shingles are small, being on average only 3” wide and 12” long, set at approximately 4½”gauge

St Dubricius spire repairs Devon Architects 1 v2

The spire of the grade I listed church of St Dubricius Church in Porlock, Somerset is clad in over 23,000 oak shingles. The spire was last reroofed in the 1930s, and these shingles have come to the end of their life. The PCC sought an experienced historic building architect to assist them in securing National Lottery Heritage Funding (NLHF) to re-shingle the spire, and then to undertake the development and delivery phases of the project to secure the spire for the next century.

The Church of St Dubricius in Porlock, Somerset dates from the 13th Century although there is evidence that a church may have stood on the site since the first half of the 12th Century. The structure of the spire is incredibly complex and the original 13th Century structure is still in place with subsequent additions. Until the existing shingles are stripped, the full extent of the work required to the supporting timbers of the spire is unknown.

Jonathan Rhind Architects helped St. Dubricius PCC apply for NHLF funding by doing research, preparing documents, and brainstorming community engagement ideas with funding advisors. Their support improves the chances of securing funding for preserving cultural heritage.

Porlock is located in Exmoor National Park and it is hoped that the oak required for the project can be sourced from the park. The specification for the oak required to make the shingles is very specific – it needs to be slow grown, straight grained and free of knots. Historically the best quality green timber (which is normally found in the lowest metre of the trunk) was used (Heritage, 2013). Sourcing suitable oak is one of the first steps, the wood will then be hand thinned, smoothed and tapered to ensure a close fit by skilled craftsmen using methods from when the church was built.

Keep an eye on our blog for more updates as this fascinating project progresses.

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