St Jude's Church finally gets its cockerel weathervane back

Engineer Robin Sims carries the new weathervane for St Jude's Church in Hampstead Garden Suburb

Engineer Robin Sims carries the new weathervane for St Jude's Church in Hampstead Garden Suburb, before helping to install it - Credit: Michael Eleftheriades

Five years after St Jude's Church lost its weathervane during Storm Barney, the famous old building has a replacement looking out over Hampstead Garden Suburb.

The weathervane was replaced after months of planning, and a blessing ceremony outside the church marked the occasion on July 8. 

Like the original, the new feature also has a cockerel mounted on it.

A small crowd watches the new St Jude's Church weathervane being installed

A small crowd watches the new St Jude's Church weathervane being installed - Credit: Michael Eleftheriades

During the blessing, Father Alan Walker made biblical references to the wind.

He said that on Pentecost the apostles heard “a rushing mighty wind” from heaven, and elsewhere St John saw angels “holding the four winds of the earth”.


You may also want to watch:


The need to replace the weathervane, because the Sir Edwin Lutyens building is Grade-1 listed, was itself a blessing in disguise - as work to plan the replacement revealed serious structural issues in the church tower's brickwork. 

Climbing engineers install the new weathervane at St Jude's

Climbing engineers install the new weathervane at St Jude's - Credit: Michael Eleftheriades

Engineers found the tower was unsound, and the church is in the midst of raising the £60,000 it needs to do necessary restoration work.

Engineer Robin Sims planned the project and even physically helped install the new weathervane.

Most Read

He told the Ham&High: “You have to work it out as you go”, he said. “I’m a machinist and I’m learning on the job. I’ve spent the last four to six months solely thinking about this [the tower].

The new cockerel looks out over Hampstead Garden Suburb

The new cockerel looks out over Hampstead Garden Suburb - Credit: Michael Eleftheriades

"Every last bit has to be planned. If we go up there and we find that I’ve made a mistake and we don’t have room for the spanner to get in somewhere or when we put it together a nut fails where a screw’s got to go, then we’ve wrecked it, we’ve got to start again.”

Inside the old weathervane’s finial ball - a 52kg component integral to the original structure - they discovered a secret.

The spire at St Jude's has been bare since Storm Barney, five years ago

The spire at St Jude's has been bare since Storm Barney, five years ago - Credit: Michael Eleftheriades

Conservation architect Margaret Davies, who also worked on King’s Cross Station, said: “We found two time capsules. One contained a tiny Bell’s whisky bottle. We believe that was put in by the contractors.

"There were photographs of four men, timber ladders and a business card from the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens' office.”

“The second time capsule was copper with a sealed end. It contained a letter written by the then incumbent, commenting on the state of the world in 1913. He was anxious about the prospect of war.”

A 2021 time capsule, containing storyboards, facemasks and the names of everyone involved in the restoration, has been stashed inside the new build.

Father Alan Walker blessed the new weathervane

Father Alan Walker blessed the new weathervane - Credit: Michael Eleftheriades

Father Walker with his grandson Raphael at the ceremony blessing the new weathervane at St Jude's

Father Walker with his grandson Raphael at the ceremony blessing the new weathervane at St Jude's - Credit: Michael Eleftheriades

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter