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The curious tale of the Twisted Church Steeple of Verchin


twisted church steeple
The church at Verchin with its twisted steeple

A curious and fun story about a twisted church steeple in a tiny village called Verchin in the 7 Valleys area of Pas-de-Calais.

The church in Verchin is around 400 years old, the West tower was completed in 1610 and the fortified tower in 1630.  It’s a beautiful building in the Gothic style, with ornate patterns on its façade and lovely tall arched stain glass windows. The fortified tower has arrow slits for archers to fire from and repel attackers and the church served as a place of refuge in times of conflict for both the villagers and soldiers. There is, at this magnificent church a twisted spire, what the French call a clochet tordu.

twisted church steeple

Sensible discourse on the origins of the twisted spire includes green oak being used which dried out too quickly in the sun causing it to shrink and turn and pull the spire round with it; it may have been built with a crooked steeple like that as an architectural flair as some are.  It may have been that the tiles covering the steeple were so heavy as to have caused it to collapse slightly and bend the base.

twisted church steeple
The bent spire of Verchin Church

I prefer the local legend for the explanation of the famous twisted steeple of Verchin.  That the young girls of the village in days gone by had poor manners and loose morals.  The old wives tale goes that when a virgin arrived at the doors of the church for her wedding – the bell tower was so astonished that it leaned over to look and when it arose, it was twisted!  It is said that the bell tower will only unwind if such a strange thing occurs a second time!

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