A VILLAGE is planning a festival to mark the 1500th anniversary of its patron saint.

Saint Brandon’s Church in Brancepeth, near Durham, is believed to be the only parish church in England dedicated to the Irish sailor saint.

Members of Brancepeth Archives and History Group have researched the village’s unique links with the 6th Century saint, said to have reached America 1000 years before Columbus.

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Among the events planned for the two-day St Brandon 1500 festival, starting on September 16, will be a Son et Fleur music and flower festival in the church.

Twelve floral exhibits will trace highlights of the saint’s fabled voyages with more than 40 clubs and flower arrangers taking part, accompanied by individual musical excerpts from an orchestral suite by Shaun Davey.

Visitors will also be able to see a film incorporating scenes of the devastating 1998 fire and can also see the church’s own facsimile copy of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Explorer and filmmaker Tim Severin, who recreated Saint Brandon’s leather boat and journey to America, will give an illustrated talk on his adventures on the Saturday.

There will be an illustrated exhibition in the village hall, tracing the history of St Brandon and the Rectors of Brancepeth, while the village choir will sing medieval chants in the church.

Embroiderers from the village have created a wall hanging depicting the saint’s voyages and on the Sunday there will be a special church service, starting at 7pm and conducted by the Bishop of Durham.

Tickets, priced £5, are available on the door or from Brancepeth Archives Group on 0191 378 0974.