The tower of the Grade II-listed Church of St James in Dry Doddington, 20 miles from Lincoln, tilts at 5.1 degrees, beating the 3.99-degree lean of its Italian rival. Picture: flickr.com
The tower of the Grade II-listed Church of St James in Dry Doddington, 20 miles from Lincoln, tilts at 5.1 degrees, beating the 3.99-degree lean of its Italian rival. Picture: flickr.com

The leaning tower of Lincolnshire

By ANDY DOLAN Time of article published Oct 22, 2015

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London - Its tilt is so pronounced that many visitors to the Wheatsheaf inn across the road have been left wondering if they’ve drunk one too many.

Introducing the leaning tower of Lincolnshire – a 12th century church with a spire that slants at a greater angle even than the famous Italian landmark in Pisa.

The tower of the Grade II-listed Church of St James in Dry Doddington, 20 miles from Lincoln, tilts at 5.1 degrees, beating the 3.99-degree lean of its Italian rival.

The Lincolnshire tower has just undergone a £110 000 restoration project to repair crumbling stonework, but its tilt remains proudly intact. The structure was underpinned in 1918 to stop it from falling over any further.

Nick Poulson, 51, of the Friends of St James’s Church group, said: “The tower has become quite an attraction and has helped to give the village an extra identity. It’s something local people are proud of. We’ve had tourists come to the village just to look and there have been more than a few people who have walked out of the pub and asked locals: ‘Is that tower leaning as much as I think it is?’ “

It is not known why the tower has tilted. Sonia Barron, the church’s rector, said it “may be that it was built on burial ground, but there’s a few theories about it”. One of these is that some of the soil that was meant to go under the building when it was erected was used elsewhere, leaving it lop-sided.

The tower’s tilt, the angle of which has been confirmed using a surveying instrument called a theodolite, is itself not a problem, and the restoration work focused instead on repairing the tower’s outer stonework, which had been damaged by nesting birds.

Churchwarden Alex Maniurka said they had been eager not to correct the tilt “because that what makes the tower so special”, adding: “We started planning the project in 2013 because the stones were eroding and it was becoming a health and safety hazard. Our main aim was to restore the tower in a sensitive way and to make it look authentic. We have successfully done that.”

The project included replacing the spire’s cockerel weathervane, which was found to be riddled with what looked like bullet holes. Mr Poulson said the most likely explanation was that a “bored” villager used it for target practice.

Architects also discovered stones halfway up the tower had an inscription, possibly added by a builder when the tower was added to the church in the early 14th century. The repairs, which were paid for using a Heritage Lottery Fund grant topped up with local fundraising, had been classed as “essential” by the Church of England, which arranges inspections of church buildings every five years by an architect or chartered surveyor.

Project co-ordinator Shirley Kerr said they are now inclined to hold tours of the church, adding: “It is the kind of building that makes people stop and stare. Now the tower is restored to its former glory we can’t wait to show it off.”

Dry Doddington has just 220 inhabitants and was mentioned in the Domesday Book. The Leaning Tower of Pisa began tilting during its construction in the 13th century due to inadequate foundations built on ground that was too soft. It has since been stabilised.

Daily Mail

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