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Chesterfield Spire

Updated on January 28, 2010

Chesterfield Twisted Spire

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Chesterfield, the second largest town in Derbyshire, England, is most famous for its twisted and crooked spire. The spire towers above the church of St Mary and All Saints in the centre of the town of Chesterfield and is a visible landmark from road and rail. Not only is this crooked spire twisted but it also leans more than nine feet out from its true centre.

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Why is the tower twisted? - Legends

  • One story tells that the spire was so amazed to learn that a virgin was marrying in the church that it tried to turn around to take a better look. It is further said that should such an event recur it will untwist for such an event would become the norm.
  • Some say the Devil once sat on the top of the Spire to rest but he sneezed because of the smell of incense wafting up from below. As he tried to hold on he twisted his tail around to prevent falling and twisted the Spire at the same time..
  • A magician persuaded a Bolsover blacksmith to shoe the devil. The blacksmith drove a nail into the devils foot causing him to run screaming away. As he passed the church he knocked the Spire out of alignment with his foot. It is said his footprint can still be seen on the Spire buttresses.


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Why is the tower twisted? - Reality

In truth no-one really knows why the tower is twisted but it certainly wasn't deliberately built that way. There are several likely explanations though the real reason is likely to be a combination of these.

  • Unseasoned green timber was used in the Spire construction.
  • The weight of the lead used in the building.
  • That many professional carpenters died in the 1349 Black Death leaving the construction completion to apprentices.
  • Lack of cross braces within the Spire.


The Devil

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Tower facts

  • The Twisted Spire rises some 228 feet.
  • There are 144 steps leading up to the Spire.
  • The Spire is clad with 32 tons of lead tiles.

A wet day in Chesterfield

Chesterfield - Is it worth a visit?

Chesterfield makes an ideal base for exploring the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. Bakewell and Matlock are both within easy reach and well worth a visit. Chesterfield town itself is unremarkable though it does have some cobbled streets, a lot of coffee shops and a few very old buildings. The market in the centre of the town is well worth a visit, selling a variety of goods, both new and second hand depending on the day of the week..

There is quite a lively night life especially at weekends and it will bring in people from as far away as Sheffield.

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How to reach Chesterfield

Chesterfield can be reached from anywhere in the United Kingdom by rail and is just a short drive from Junction 29 on the M1. 


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    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      MAMBORD - thank you for reading. I hope you get the chance to visit one day.

    • MAMBORD profile image

      MAMBORD 8 years ago from spain

      I find very interesting this article,Peter, but what I've most enjoyed is the picture of the wet day. Thanks

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      Thanks Duchess - Chesterfield is also a piece of furniture and (if they still make them) a brand of US cigarettes. As to the twisted tower...who knows? It is held on to the tower by the weight of the lead and nothing else. I am surprised health and safety don't have something to say.

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      Duchess OBlunt 8 years ago

      I like that you gave many different possible explanations. You left me wondering. Great pictures of the spiral. I've heard of Chesterfield before, but never of this particular piece of architecture. Very interesting read.

    • Russell-D profile image

      Russell-D 8 years ago from Southern Ca.

      Peter, when I saw the spire years ago, it reminded me of many leaning towers I'd seen in small Italian Hill towns. But this one has that special spiral that makes it unique. Good writing. Thanks. David Russell

    • jacobkuttyta profile image

      jacobkuttyta 8 years ago from Delhi, India

      Thanks for the information.

      I wanted to visit the place.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      That was bit of a revelation. I never knew that. Thank you, Peter

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      Thanks Dohn. Yes I thought the last photo was brilliant. I thought of using it at the start but some may have been confused. You are probably right to go with apprentice theory but I prefer the virgin one.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      Lizzy - Glad you enjoyed it. I will eventually write more on England though I have lived less than half my life there.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I really like the vantage point of the last pic, Peter. What fascinating architecture! I'm glad that you were able to introduce me to it. The apprentices doing a lousy job on it makes the most sense to me. Thank you again.

    • LizzyBoo profile image

      LizzyBoo 8 years ago from Czech Republic

      Peter I love hubs about England. Thank you so much for this amazing info. Thank you-Lizzy

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      Thanks Rik

    • Rik Ravado profile image

      Rik Ravado 8 years ago from England

      Enjoyable read - I spent my teeenage years in this part of Derbyshire and remember the spire well!