St. Mary's is commonly known as The Crooked Spire, due to the church's extraordinary twisting spire. Caused by the timber warping, the spire now leans 8ft and dominates the surrounding Derbyshire countryside.
There are several explanations as to why the spire is twisted. The most plausible is that, when construction was halted by the Black Death in 1349, the timbers were exposed and warped by the elements.
Folklore says that the spire buckled when the Devil sat on it, or that the spire was so amazed to hear of a virgin being married in the church that it twisted to see the wonder for itself.
The spire's famous inclination is 7.5 ft to the south and 3.5 ft to the west.
Although the church wasn't completed until 1360, it was dedicated in 1234 and replaced an earlier Norman church. The spire didn't begin to twist until several centuries after it was completed.
Cited in Simon Jenkins' 'England's Thousand Best Churches'.
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