Weather Vanes 4 – St Alfege’s Church

Of course St Alfege’s Church is, like most of Greenwich, all under wraps at the moment while it receives a spruce up, but Stephen sent me a pic of the weather vane so we’re ready to enjoy it when all is revealed.

I’ve been trying to work out how old it is, and I’m guessing it dates back to the restoration after the war. In this austere little pamphlet from 1951, though,

…the church has not yet been rebuilt – the booklet is all about the history of the church up to the war, and describes what will be done with the money from the War Damage Commission, which considered the church to be so important it gave £8,000 towards rebuilding – £5,000 of which was for the organ. I’m guessing the booklet was produced as an extra incentive for people to donate the extra £9,000 still needed. Plus ça change…

If you look at the drawing on the front, there is an encouragingly similar blob where the weather vane should be -

So I’m guessing that if the weather vane dates from the restoration, it’s a fairly faithful rendition.

I can find precious little about the vane itself, though I did find a little story Richardson tells where a bit of St Alfege’s church spire lodged itself in one of the houses in Roan street after being hit by lightning on May 6th, 1813, and stayed there for many years – don’t bother looking for it now, btw, the house is long-gone…

As a weather vane it looks fairly standard to me – nice ‘direction arrows’ in what – bronze? No images of Vikings throwing bones at archbishops, but then I guess it’s the better for that…

If anyone knows any more about the St Alfege weather vane, I’d love to know it. Meanwhile, I leave you with the tantalising prospect of Weather vanes 5 (do try to contain your excitement…)  which has a very odd story indeed…

Postscript: I have been contacted by Andrew Blundy, the church warden of St Alfeges who has some very interesting news:

“We believe that the copper work of the weathervane is original 18th century work, with 1950 repairs (as part of the post-war restoration) and now the 2010 repairs (having been recently completed in accordance with the attached report).  We found a date scratched into the lead to the cap stone of 1954.  The rod is steel so probably dates from 1954. The upper two stones of the obelisk were replaced at the same time.”

The vane is made from copper repousé on an iron spindle and, according to the report made by the company doing the repairs, in pretty poor shape. They have basically knocked all the dents out, re-soldered where needed, and then re-gilded it, which is why it’s looking so good just now . The church tower should be revealed in about six weeks time, when I’m hoping to be able to tell you a bit more about the work. Looking forward to it…

the attachments to this post:

st alfege's booklet low
st alfege’s booklet low

st alfege's booklet low 1
st alfege’s booklet low 1

alfege weathervane stephen low
alfege weathervane stephen low

3 Comments to “Weather Vanes 4 – St Alfege’s Church”

  1. Scott says:

    Hi Phantom,

    Speaking of Greenwich being all covered up I remembered a few months I made a poster of Greenwich for the summer of 2010. I hope you like it.

  2. Steve says:

    Does anyone yet know what’s going on under all the wrapping along Nelson Road? Is it just a paint job?

  3. hilly says:


    i’ve been doing a little investigating…

    apparently the weathervane despite being restored in the 50′s is mostly original, and is made of copper.

    hope this helps