The Lewes Shark Weather Vane – Lewes, England - Atlas Obscura

The Lewes Shark Weather Vane

This toothy tower topper commemorates a valuable shark that washed ashore nearby.  


Churches around the world are often adorned with representations of fish, owing to the Greek ikhthū́s (ichthys), appearing in the acrostic phrase ‘Iēsous CHristos THeou HYios Sōtēr’ meaning ‘Jesus Christ Son of God Savior’. But one church in Lewes, England, features a far larger sea creature.

The tower of Trinity Church in Southover boasts a unique weather vane in the form of a large shark. Detailed with gills and a row of sharp teeth, the slightest change in wind direction turns the shark in the sea of blue sky.

This toothy tower topper was erected in the 19th century to commemorate a priceless gift from the sea. In 1813, a massive basking shark washed up on Brighton Beach, just over eight miles from Lewes. Basking sharks can reach 36 feet and nearly eight tonnes.

This particular beached beast was of such a great size that it yielded hundreds of gallons of liver oil. Used as fuel, and in cosmetics and medicine, shark liver oil was incredibly valuable at the time, bringing much wealth to the community, prompting celebrations and this peculiar weather-vane commemoration.

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web