St Mary’s at Long Sutton boasts of being the tallest, oldest wooden spire in Europe.
They take a more humble approach at All Saints, Moulton, where verger Margaret Horn says they weren’t aware the church was “anything out of the ordinary”.
However, both churches feature in a new book, Fifty English Steeples, the Finest Medieval Parish Church Towers and Spires in England, by Julian Flannery.
Vicar of Long Sutton Father Jonathan Sibley describes the book, a hefty tome of almost 500 pages, as “an amazing technical book, and the first of its kind in the last 500 years”.
The book traces the development of the church steeple from its humble beginnings to “consummate work of art”, listing them in a way that illustrates this progress.
Long Sutton’s entry therefore comes fairly early, reflecting a time when timber spires were once commonplace, and described as “a remarkable early survivor”.
The book, primarily about architecture and written by an architect, goes into great detail about the steeple’s construction, believed to be in three phases, and contains a number of fine drawings of the church.
However, the author appears to dispute St Mary’s proud boast, saying: “The timber spire at St Mary’s is not the tallest in the land, and it is hard to say with any confidence that it is the oldest, but it is certainly the finest.”
The author says it is also “one of the greatest monuments recording the birth of Gothic architecture in England”.
And that’s good enough for Father Jonathan, who says: “We are delighted. It’s given lots of details which we didn’t know and suggestions how it was built.
“We are celebrating our 850th anniversary in three years’ time, so it comes at the right time. We are very pleased and proud.”
In fact Father Jonathan, who met the author when he was researching the church some years ago, says there have already been visitors to St Mary’s thanks to the book.
He added: “It’s good to bring churches to life and bring people into churches. It’s a very comprehensive, very helpful document.”