This week’s curiosity is an architectural phenomenon that has become a symbol of the area. The Church of St Mary and All Saints in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, is the home of The Crooked Spire.
Built in the 1360s, The Crooked Spire looks impossibly precarious yet has stood the test of time. The spire has a height of 70m above the ground and leans 2.89m to the south-west. The spiral twist at the base is about 45° from west to east. This is what gives the spire its crooked appearance.
There are several theories as to how the spire came to look this way including some dubious folklore. Folklore has it that the spire turned to look at a virgin getting married in the church and will turn back again once another virgin marries there. A more credible theory was that due to the devastation of the Black Death there was a lack of skilled men to build a spire properly.
Today it is believed that the spire was originally oak tiled and replacing these with lead caused the spire to twist. The lead is said to heat up with the sun on one side causing some of the tiles to expand more than others. Along with the extra weight of the lead tiles and the use of unseasoned wood to build the spire is thought to create this unique effect.
Tours of the spire are possible on most days (except Sundays) for those wishing to get up close to this quirky feature or get a good view of the local area.
Other curiosities hidden around the church, including Chesterfield’s first gas lamp, can be found at www.friendsofthecrookedspirechesterfield.co.uk.
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