In Devon there is a day more important than Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, St George’s Day and any other national holiday you can think of. Celebrated every year on 4th June, Devon Day is the official celebration of all things Devon, it’s a national day of recognition and promotes everything that Devon has to offer.
So, what is it? Why do we celebrate and how can you join in where you are? Here’s a brief guide to everything Devon Day.
Devon Day is celebrated on 4th June, which is also St Petroc’s Day. While he is also closely associated with our friends over the border in Cornwall, he is also the Patron Saint of Devon and there are several locations across the county that are dedicated to him.
Ok, so who is St Petroc?
It’s believed that Petroc was born in South Wales sometime around the year 468. He primarily ministered to the people living in Devon and Cornwall, who at the time were known as Dewnans and Kernow and would form the kingdom of Dumnonia – the Saxon name for Devon.
He studied in Ireland, made a pilgrimage to Rome and then headed towards the South West of England. He ministered throughout Dumnonia, which at the time included parts of Cornwall, Devon, parts of Somerset and the edge of Dorset, as well as overseas in Brittany. He founded churches across England, Wales and Brittany and is famed for converting Constantine of Cornwall to Christianity.
Petroc is not only the Patron Saint of Cornwall but also of Devon. He is often depicted alongside a wolf, which he is said to have tamed while on pilgrimage and Exeter Cathedral recorded that it possessed some of his relics, which are believed to have been presented to the cathedral by King Athelstan, one of England’s earliest monarchs.
The Flag of Devon, which was officially launched by the BBC following a design competition in 2003, is dedicated to Saint Petroc and is now used across Devon. His name has also been used for a variety of charitable organisations looking at working with vulnerable people across the county.
There are several ancient buildings across Devon, including in Barnstaple, that are dedicated to St Petroc and that you can still see.
How can I get involved?
Devon Day has been an official holiday since 2016 and has become a growing celebration for Devonians, both here and further afield. You don’t have to physically be in Devon to take part, simply be in the spirit of Devon. Why not organise a cream tea (making sure to serve it the Devon way!), plan a surfing break or bake some pasties? – The original recipe has been traced back to Devon after all!
However you choose to celebrate, we hope you have a lovely Devon Day whether you are in North Devon or not!