“On  4th June at about 6.45pm the spire of Chelsfield Church near Orpington Kent was struck by lightning” So began the dramatic newspaper report of 1908 telling how the weather vane was struck,  causing the shingles and wood below to disintegrate. The strike passed down the spire ripping the shingles and breaking up the oak of the structure beneath.   A large hole was reported to have appeared in the north side of the nave, and masonry was scattered for some twenty feet. The roof of the nave also lost many tiles, and there was splintered wood inside the tower. The spire was seen to smoke after the strike, but it was thought the heavy rain prevented a serious fire.  The incident was reported in the Parish magazine, where the focus was on the progress of the repairs.
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Damage to St Martin’s spire
St Martin’s Lightning Strike 1908
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These two photographs are copyright of Jean Hammond and are reproduced with her permission. The words BASSETT and MIDHURST can just be made out on the right hand picture.