How did the cockerel get on Chichester Cathedral's spire?

Ten years ago this week, a dedicated team of steeplejacks took a perilous climb up to the top of Chichester Cathedral's spire.

The ascent took place on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, with the the aim of installing an 'extremely special' weathervane at the highest point of the cathedral's 277ft spire.

The gilded Cathedral weathervane – a 3ft cockerel - was be installed at the top of the Cathedral spire.

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A team of steeplejacks climb 131ft – 205 steps - to reach the base of the spire and then ascended a narrow 146ft ladder directly up the side of the spire, arriving finally at a tiny scaffold platform erected especially for this project around the spire cap.

The gilded weathervane before being taken to the spire in 2011.

In a world first, the weathervane was gilded in Fairtrade gold and it was the first time Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold has been displayed on a public building.

The unique work was the result of a pioneering collaboration between Chichester Cathedral, Chichester-based ethical jewellers Cred, which closed in 2019, and the Fairtrade Foundation.

The gold covering the weathervane was responsibly sourced by Chichester’s Cred jewellers from the Sotrami Mine in Peru - one of the first mines in the world to be certified to Fairtrade standard.

Chichester’s Cred jewellers were pivotal to the realisation of Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold and were one of the first ethical jewellers in the UK to produce

collections sourced in this way.

Prior to the gilding of the weathervane, the gold was sent to Italy to be turned into gold leaf. The Italian company Manetti is one of Florence’s oldest companies and the only remaining organisation in Europe who are able to turn gold into gold leaf.

The leaf needed to gild the weathervane is just 8 microns thick (1 micron is 1000th of a millimetre) and is made out of 23 1⁄2 carat gold. The gold started life as a pure 24 carat but the leafing process introduces a small amount of copper.