While the Crooked Spire remains twisted, the clock is now straight


Posted on 24 April, 2014 by Smith of Derby.


The Grade I listed Crooked Spire in Chesterfield has called on Smith of Derby clockmakers to complete restoration of the church clock that came to an untimely halt in January. Built around 1360, the Crooked Spire Church is the largest church in Derbyshire.

The spire itself is considered a piece of architectural creativity rarely seen throughout the world, but the fact may be that it was accidental brilliance. Stories reveal that the Spire was ‘twisted’ when unseasoned wood was used during its construction and when 32 tons of lead tiles were placed on the green timber, the structure began to twist as the wood dried up. The twist may also be a consequence of a lack of cross-bracing in the structure.

Others, however, choose to validate the ‘twisted’ structure of Chesterfield’s Crooked Spire through folklore as opposed to architectural explanations. One such story states that a blacksmith from the nearby village made a poor job of shoeing the Devil who, lashing out in agony as he passed over Chesterfield, gave the spire a violent kick. Another story claims that the Devil was resting on the spire when a whiff of incense from below made him sneeze, and as he had his tail wrapped tightly around the spire at the time caused the twist. Within the community, the true cause may be up for never-ending debate.

Admittedly, Smith of Derby clockmakers cannot help much in solving the argument on what actually caused the spire to twist many years ago, but our restoration team can help with solving the debate on what made the church’s clock hands stop in January. That is why the church contracted local clockmakers Smith of Derby to repair and restore the clock mechanism of the iconic church and reinstall the components on-site on April 24th.

Tony Charlesworth, a Smith of Derby experienced Technical Sales Engineer commented: “It’s always a proud moment to see work carried out both inside and outside from our professional team. It is good to see the mechanical works restored marking time for the community of Chesterfield.”

The rare Chesterfield Crooked Spire is a member of the Association of the Twisted Spires of Europe, an organisation with 72 members altogether. Although France and Germany have 32 and 19 of these structures respectively, Chesterfield’s happens to be the only UK representative. The spire, which stands 228 feet from the ground and leans 9 feet 5 inches from its true centre, will continue to be a cherished as it represents a unique piece of English history. Smith of Derby is honoured to be involved with its continued preservation.

For any queries about clock repair or church clock restoration in your community feel free to contact us here.

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