line.gif - 1064 Bytes
small tortoiseshell

The Story of the Spire

Saturday, 13th October 2001, West Yorkshire

Around Old Horbury THERE'S A new bookshop, Rickaro Books in Horbury, near Wakefield, (see link below) but to judge by the Victorian fireplace it's in a century old property. Appropriately the books here range from the latest bestsellers to novels of the 1950s and 60s, some of them in their original dust-jackets. There are also some limited edition books.

Richard Knowles who runs the bookshop is a keen local historian, so local books, including my Around Old Horbury, are well represented. In fact my 6 local titles have pride of place on the mantelpiece.

Above the fireplace hangs a large 18th century print of St Peter's Church, St Peter's Church spirebuilt by Horbury-born stonemason, architect and sometime mayor of York, John Carr (1723-1807). Richard explains that it is a modern edition, printed from the original copper plate but he points out that the corrosion of the plate now appears as a faint granular mottling on the printed image. I step forward to look closer. This particular print has been hand-coloured bringing to life the elegant figures in the foreground who wouldn't look out of place in a Jane Austen novel. Unlike Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray, the corrosion of the plate has kept pace with two centuries of wear and tear to the fabric of the building.

As we leave the shop, my wife, Barbara, remarks, 'That was really strange. Did you notice that, when you stepped forward to look at the picture, the clock on the spire was showing exactly the time that it was at that moment; I glanced at my watch to check.'

The picture shows the church as Carr intended it to be. It's in the classical tradition - it wouldn't look out of place in Wren's London -the cross on the spire and, as the crucifix isn't an element of Greek and Roman architecture, Carr topped the spire with a large stone urn.

Classically correct perhaps, but isn't an urn a pagan symbol? In what seems like an act of divine retribution, during the 19th century a storm sent the offending urn crashing down through the church roof and it has since been replaced with a large wrought iron crucifix. next page

Related Link

Rickaro Bookshop

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; ''