“Wait, what’s that?!” exclaimed my boyfriend. “Well, obviously I can’t look. I’m driving!” Came my curt reply. And that was the end of that conversation. Until about twenty minutes later when I decided I just had to know what he had been on about. So once we’d parked at the beach (we were on our way to Bigbury-on-Sea), and were setting out ready to explore, I pulled out my phone. I searched for unusual buildings in the area. And, yes. There was a point of interest in the area. It’s a strange tower. And it’s known as the crooked spire of Ermington.
The Crooked Spire of Ermington
In a remote corner of Devon, you’ll find the quaint village of Ermington. There are few inhabitants and even fewer public spaces. Aside from a church and a local pub (named after the church), the village doesn’t have much to offer in way of public sites of interest.
The population of the village hovers somewhere under 1000 and was founded sometime around the 8th-Century. The village is so ancient that it even appears in the Domesday Book. One famous inhabitant even founded a town in Australia, naming it Ermington after his hometown back in the South Hams, Devon, England.
But the most interesting aspect of the village has to be its church and the adjacent well. For the crooked spire of Ermington towers high above the village. Visible from the main road, it can be spotted from miles around, often leaving passersby wondering how it can still be standing.
Legend tells that the spire was once straight. However, one day, a beautiful bride arrived at the church and the church bent forward for her. It’s thought that the timbers were still slightly damp when the spire was constructed, meaning that once they settled and dried, they buckled and bent.
The church dates back to the 14th-Century, though parts of it are thought to have survived from the original Norman church on the site. However, the crooked spire of Ermington wasn’t added until at least the 15th-Century.
Ermington’s Holy Well
Nestled in a small field filled with cows, just next to the church you’ll find an ancient well. This well is thought to have once been in use as a ‘holy well’ and was restored by the parish in 2000. A traditional holy well is any sort of spring or base of water with a stone structure covering it.
Holy wells have always been a source of inspiration and sites of religious worship. Due to the fact that they ‘swell up’ from the ground, before mains water they were often the only source of pure water. Holy Wells can be found throughout Ireland, the South West and parts of Brittany. Though they have been revered for thousands of years, with the rise of Christianity they were often re-dedicated to the Virgin Mary.