Monday, 6 May 2013

The Hertfordshire Spike

Generally Hertfordshire was lacking stone to build spires so adopted an alternative - a thin leaded spirelet which was built from within the parapet of the tower. This style of building became so popular in the County that such spirelets are known as 'Hertfordshire Spikes'.

Of course this explanation is a pragmatic solution but the real origins of the Herts spike lie in antiquity. When Christianity took hold in Hertfordshire and the first church architects were looking for sites it transpired that the Devil pre-owned all the prime locations. A meeting was arranged between the site owner and church leaders to negotiate a land takeover agreement.

After a lengthy parley the Devil agreed to hand over his lands so long as the churches built on them had no steeples - he can only enter a church through the tower, and leave it by the north door, but a steeple prevents his entry.

The architects, being wily, replaced the steeples with spikes on which he would be impaled if he attempted entry and thus circumvented the deal and so lawyers were born.

Spikes appear elsewhere but they're a Hertfordshire specialty.

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