This “folk legend” about the twisted spire of Bourn church was an entry in the A&S Protectors’ tournament at Ormthing.
Many years ago, a great storm blew through the valley. The mill sails creaked, the wind roared through the trees, and even the ghosts did not walk among the barrows on the hill, for the Devil was abroad.
He raced down the ancient hollow road from the ridge of the hill. He set cattle galloping and struck the standing grain flat. He scattered embers in hearths and hurled open shutters to let in the rain. Amid the cries of the villagers, the screams of children, and the bellowing of livestock he laughed, delighting in the fear and the chaos he had wrought. At last, he came to rest on the very steeple of the church, perched atop it with his wings folded on his back, and he coiled his tail around the steeple to balance himself amid the storm. On seeing the Devil perched on the steeple, the village's priest went to the churchyard gate and called out in the wind, "Get down!"
The Devil laughed. "I have set your village to panic and you think you can command me? You are a simple man who barely knows his Latin and grubs his own soil alongside the lowest serf!"
"Perhaps I am a simple man, but I stand not alone. If you will not get down, I will call on Saint Helena and the Blessed Virgin, whose church this is, and you will regret your presumption!"
"Call them!" cried the Devil, spreading his wings to catch the wind, and he laughed, for he thought there was no power stronger than he. "Call on women to help you, since you cannot help yourself!"
And so the priest raised his hand and called on Saint Helena and the Blessed Virgin and even as the Devil laughed a bolt of lightning struck the steeple on which he sat. He brushed aside the blow, but as he tried to stand and jeer at the priest he found that he could not, for his tail was seared to the very fabric of the steeple roof. The Devil struggled, trying to pull free. He called down curses on the priest and the village. He summoned wind and storm to try to blow the steeple apart, but it stood firm and the priest still stood in the churchyard gate.
At last, as the Devil fell silent, the priest asked him again if he would get down.
"Do you not see my struggles, you fool?" demanded the Devil.
"If you will leave this place and its people in peace forever, you will go free," said the priest. The devil sneered at him and once more criticised his simplicity and his lack of Latin and cast doubt on his honour and his virtue, but the priest brushed aside the insults as easily as the rain.
"Leave this place and its people in peace forever and you will go free," he said. Once again, the Devil cursed him, once again he called down wind and lightning on the church, but once again the church and its priest stood firm.
"Leave this place and its people in peace forever and you will go free," he said once more. The Devil saw that there was no other escape. "Very well," he said.
"Give your word," said the priest, for what the Devil swears he will perform. The Devil spat upon the ground, but he swore upon Hell itself that he would leave the village, the church, and all its people in peace.
Then the priest raised his hand and called on Saint Helena and the Blessed Virgin once more and the Devil's tail came free from the steeple. At once, he flew away down the valley, taking the storm with him. And behind him he left the steeple of the church, shortened by his weight and twisted where he wrenched it in his fury. It stands so to this day.
The author writes:
Bourn church is notable for having a twisted spire, but it’s not clear how that happened or when. The tower was built in the 1200s, but may not have originally been planned, or at least it was not planned to be so large. The spire also appears to have been reconstructed and reduced in height at some point, though it’s not clear when. The twist could have been introduced during any of these changes.
It's not uncommon for churches with twisted spires to have folk legends to explain the twist. A notable example is St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield, which has several local folk legends, mostly involving the Devil sitting on the spire. I don’t know of one for Bourn, so I used the Chesterfield legends as an inspiration for an equivalent legend.