Object of the month

Weather vane from St. Mary’s Church.

The weather vane ready to be fixed to the steeple in June 1901, by Messrs Green & Sons who were repairing storm damage to the church.

Made by Henry Long & Sons of Witney in 1901 and accidentally knocked off the spire in 1942.

Originally the copper cockerel was covered with four coats of gold lead – traces of which can still be seen.

Inside were placed a copy of the Witney Gazette, the Witney Parish magazine, and names of the committee who organised the work.

On 2nd September 1942 a Miles Master II (DL425) aeroplane towing a glider (Hotspur HH518) crashed near Mount House in Witney, killing the two occupants of the plane. As the plane came down it knocked the weather vane and part of the steeple off the church. The glider landed safely.

Eye-witness R.C. Surman later wrote:

“I was in the fields of Cogges Hill. A glider came over circling very low, it landed a few yards from me. The pilot jumped out and asked the shortest way back to town. He said the plane towing him had collided with the church. I ran with him across the fields and up Langel Lane. I took him to the church, and could see the top of the spire was missing. The plane was on fire in Mr Marriott’s Garden…”