All Saints – Crooked Spire – Chesterfield

Crooked Spire of Chesterfield
Chesterfield - All Saints church.

All saints church at Chesterfield.

Chesterfield’s crooked spire is a parish church of St. Mary and All Saints. This famous six hundred year old crooked spire is visible from many miles around. This is a largest parish church in Derby shire, having several chapels, alabaster tomb, and a full range of historic treasure. It was built around 1350.

Since 1994, this is a member of the Association of Twisted Spires of Europe. There are altogether 72, France has 32, Germany 19, Austria 8, Belgium 7, Denmark 3, and Switzerland 2, with Chesterfield being the UK’s only representative. Chesterfield’s Crooked Spire is the most unusual, with a greater lean & twist than any other.
There are plenty of legend, about the All saints crooked spire.
Some say that a local blacksmith was asked to shoe the devil and was so nervous, he drove a nail into his foot. The devil flew off and kicked out at the spire as he passed by.
In the second tale, the devil landed on the spire and sneezed violently when the smell of incense from the midnight mass reached his nose.
And in the third, the spire turned around in amazement when a virgin was married in the church
so it leaned over to have a closer look, and if this ever happen again the spire will straighten thinking that it’s common.
The most likely explanation, though, is the lack of skilled craftsmen and the use of green timber, a lack of cross-bracing and 32 tons of lead cladding.
The octagonal spire of All Saints is timber-framed and constructed of oak, with platelets of lead-cladding rising in herringbone rows from the flat-roofed and crenellated battlements of the clock-towered belfry, up to the golden cockerel atop the weather-vane, 228 feet above the ground.
The spire currently leans 9ft 6ins to the south-west and leans more every year.
The spire also has a spiral twist of 45% from west to east at its base which is thought to be attributable to the use of green, unseasoned timber, and the weight of the lead cladding.
The spire at the All Saints was added to the existing tower around 1362, but is not attached and is only held in place by the weight (32 tons) and perfect balance.
During the 19th century an official architectural survey declared the spire unsafe and dangerous; the Town Council were ordered to either take it down, or repair it and make it safe – they repaired it.

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