Fascinating facts

  • If you want to climb the tower, to reach the top you will climb a total of 211 steps: 76 to the ringing chamber; a further 34 to the Bell Platform; and a further 101 to the Tower Parapet Visit www.stwulframs.org.uk for dates when the tower will be open.
  • The Parapet is 143 feet (44.5m) above the ground but the spire adds a further 140 feet (43.5m) and the total 283 feet (88m) makes St Wulfram's the third highest parish church spire in England, and the sixth highest if Cathedrals are included. Only the spires of St James, Louth, Lincolnshire, and St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol are taller. When it was built it was the tallest in the country.
  • Some people have looked up at the steeple and said that it does not look straight. There is a rhyme which includes the line, "'Tis height makes Grantham steeple look awry." An old book by Francis Peck (c 1723) mentions "The History of Grantham Steeple, proving that the Devil hit it a Knock with his Ruler, and made it stand awry ever since." However, the reason for the impression that the steeple is not perfectly formed is the staircase on the south side, which means that the spire does not seem to rise from the exact centre of the tower.
  • In 1797 the weathervane and summit were blown off in a high wind. The top of the spire was not rebuilt, and a millstone was fixed on top of the spire. The millstone remained in place until 1818, when another weathervane was made.
  • In Grantham you may hear the phrase 'up to the olliers'. This refers to the parapet walk at the top of the tower. The word olliers may come from the French "allure", an alley or passage, the water-way or flat gutter behind a parapet, which is based on "aller", to walk.

"Up on the olliers"

  • The small holes on the wall to the south of the west doorway suggest that a roof or canopy was fixed there at some time, probably to shelter a statue, possibly of Our Lady, that once stood in the niche in connection with a Chantry Chapel there. Stories that have arisen over the years that the holes were not caused by enemy fire in World War II or by Dick Turpin, the highwayman on his way to York, should be ignored!
  • The clock, made by Gillett and Bland of Croydon in 1876, is housed in the tower and chimes the quarter and full hours, but has no clock face. This clock replaced a much earlier one.
  • In 1945 the spire was in such a dangerous condition that the Diocesan Surveyor recommended that the top 40ft be taken down and rebuilt. The bells couldn't be rung, and low-flying aircraft were prohibited from the vicinity.
The photograph shows the spire under repair in 1946-7.