St Mary & All Saints Church, Chesterfield

Recent Photograph of St Mary & All Saints Church (Chesterfield)

This is of course the (in)famous "Crooked Spire". There are various explanations, or legends to explain why it is crooked. The most rational one is that the timber used for the framework of the spire was unseasoned, and as it dried out so it warped. It has also been suggested that as its construction was suspended by the Black Death (1349), perhaps exposure of the timbers to the elements during the hiatus caused warping.

However, Folklore also has explanations. One legend is that the Devil sat on the spire, and his weight caused it to buckle - OR that he wrapped his tail around it to keep his balance, and it twisted in sympathy. Another is that the Spire was so amazed to hear of a virgin being married in the Church that it twisted round in an effort to see this wonder for itself. This legend further adds that should this ever happen again, the Spire will straighten up!

It is believed there was a church, or small chapel at Chesterfield as early as the 7th Century. The Normans however replaced the first building, although proof wasn't found until 1848 when a Norman font was dug up in the Vicarage garden! In 1093 William Rufus granted the Church to the newly built Lincoln Cathedral, the Deans of Lincoln becoming Lords of the Manor. The present building was dedicated in 1234, but wasn't finished until 1360. The spire is 228 feet high and leans almost 8 feet.

A photograph of Inside St Mary & All Saints Church, Chesterfield is also available, and a reproduction of a pen and ink drawing of St Mary & All Saints Church (1907) sketched from an almost identical viewpoint as the above, but with gravestones still in the churchyard.

For those who like a taste of Then and Now, see also this photograph overlaid with the pen and ink sketch.

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

Image contributed by Rosemary Lockie on 27th April 1999.
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