Minor British Institutions: Chesterfield's crooked spire

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The Independent Online

Even though the gently twisting curves might put a Londoner in mind of the glass-and-steel cylinder popularly known as The Gherkin, not even the wackiest of modern-day architects have been able to come up with anything quite so arresting as the 14th-century spire of the Church of Saint Mary and All Saints in Chesterfield (popularly but wrongly referred to as "Chesterfield Cathedral").

This gloriously, defiantly crooked shape just makes you want to reach out and straighten it up. Some say it is the work of the devil, who sat on the spire out of spite (though it can't have been at all comfortable for Beelzebub).

The more mundane version is that the structure was built with timber that hadn't properly been seasoned, and consequently buckled in this priapic fashion.

At any rate, Chesterfield's spire, a symbol you'll see everywhere in the town, is surely the oddest thing to be found around the ever-fascinating Peak District.