The original spire was hit by lightning in 1712, caught fire and damaged the church. The present spire was built in 1838 and the copper ball and weather vane from the older spire were placed at its pinnacle when it was rebuilt. When the ball and vane was taken down in 1930/31 for cleaning and repair, the ball was found to contain two pieces of parchment. One was a list of names. On the second was a ‘Song for the Ball’, which is as follows:
A song for the Ball, the Brave Old Ball
who hath stood on the Church spire long
Here’s a health and renown to his old Copper Crown
and his many supporters…
There’s a gay smile plays when the Sun’s last rays
on his broad and glittering head
and the moon’s fair light on the tombstones white
cheers his gloomy abode with the dead.
In the days of Yore long long before
You and I drew the breath of life
He hath often heard Steal the merry merry peal
that announces the Young Maiden a wife;
and tales he could tell of the funeral knell
and the tears that the friendless have shed
when the greed sod press’d on the cold clay breast
and the last rays of hope had fled.
He saw the rare days when the old-fashioned ways
differed widely to what they are now,
when the proud boasted frame and England’s name
was unpressed on each warrior’s brow
Now might conquers right……
reversed by a wise Legislation."
the remainder had sadly perished by 1930 and could not be transcribed.
It was written by R.W. Humphrey, November 1838. There are rumours that it was a drinking song in the local pubs of Town Malling at the time and rumours also that when the ball was taken down from the old spire and then put onto the new one, in the interim period it may have been used as something of a Punch Bowl at the Bear Inn by the tradesmen tasked with restoring it to the spire, and from which people would drink!
Rev’d David GreenVicar, St Mary-the-Virgin, West Mallingand Rector, St Michael & All Angels, Offham