Chesterfield Church, Derbyshire

Famous for it's twisted spire, the Church of St. Mary & All Saints, Chesterfield in Derbyshire is one England's most remarkable Churches for that reason.

The church, which is the largest in Derbyshire, mainly dates to the 13th and 14th centuries. The spire was finished in 1400 and is 228 feet high.  It twists up to 9 feet out of true and, apparently, is continuing to twist even today.

There are several legends as to how the spire became twisted.  One tells of a powerful magician who persuaded a Bolsover blacksmith to shoe the Devil. The blacksmith, however drove a nail into the Devil's foot. Howling with rage, the Devil took flight towards Chesterfield. Passing over the Church, he lashed out in pain, caught the spire and twisted it out of shape. Or was it lightning? Or did Lucifer sit on the Church and spitefully let his weight crush its elegant spire?

Another more prosaic and humorous version has it that a virgin was getting married at the church, and the spire, never having seen a virgin bride before, leaned over to have a closer look. Should the event ever happen again, the spire will think it commonplace and straighten up!

The more likely version is that materials and manpower were at a premium as the Black Death took a hold of Chesterfield in 1349.  There is no cross-bracing on the wooden interior of the spire and the weight of 32 tons of stone tiling combined with varying weather conditions has caused the twist.

Whatever the reason it has put the otherwise unremarkable market town of Chesterfield on many a tourist itinerary!

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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