I found this arrangement to access the tower/belfry in a local church.  The use of a ‘modern’ wooden ladder is not so unusual, but I’ve not seen a ladder like the dark wooden one here (I presume the rail/rung ladder replaces it, for health and safety reasons).   I’ve had a wander round the web to find whether there is a specific name for this type of ladder, but with no luck, does anyone have an idea?

In my local area, it’s pretty hit and miss whether a church is open or not (too many thieves/vandals around), but even those that are open have restrictions to prevent people getting into the belfry.  Obviously, this is to ensure safety, but I suspect there is also a case for keeping them closed to prevent disturbance to any bats that might be roosting/hibernating.


12 thoughts on “Ladder….

  1. Here in the states, hibernating bats are threatened by White Nose Syndrome, a fungus that is spreading across the nation, wiping out large numbers. Disturbing hibernation is deadly because it causes them to use up energy that they need to survive the non-feeding months. I’m glad that churches are hospitable to their hibernating bats!

  2. Stephen,

    Truly the quest for a proper nomenclature is a “black hole” which can suck us all in, never to spit us out again. I tried a couple of things.
    1. I asked for comments from well-educated architects in Corpus Christi, Texas. I have worked with them and know they have an interest in buildings and the history of older ones. I received this from Bill Wilson, Principal of WKMC Architects:
    “Interesting photo of a very much over-designed access ladder. I do not know the origin of this type of “staggered step” ladder, but we have seen a variety of similar iterations in older buildings from time to time. You can still purchase a variety of ladders and stairs with “staggered steps”. Although in recent years, they have become increasingly more rare. I have never seen one fabricated from a solid plate…before.”
    2. I approached Dr. Christopher Long, Associate Dean of the University of Texas School of Architecture and Director of the Architectural History Department. He replied:
    “Yes, this is interesting, and I can’t say I’ve seen another quite like it. Rather inventive.

    No, I’m not aware of a specific name for this “type.” I would simply describe it: “a single-plank ladder with hand-hewn step and hand holes” would be clear to everyone, I think. Sometimes in our field a description is better than a term anyway….

    Best wishes to you, Chris”

    I suspect there may be something more conclusive buried in the archives of a monastery somewhere, but that is a black hole of a different magnitude.

    Best of luck to you. When you find the answer, you may be close to the Holy Grail, too.


    • I’ve very grateful that you have put so much effort in on my behalf! I’ve still not found a name. It has been suggested that the ladder was a miners ladder, but that has really panned out. I’ve also found it referred to as a ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, but all the other references that I’ve found show a standard ladder for Jacobs ladder.
      It’s really interesting that you mention ‘Holy Grail’ – looking through other references, I found this paragraph in relation to the Templars who owned the town where I live way back when.
      “Further, some twenty years before, he was at Wetherby, and the chief preceptor, who was also there, did not come to supper because he was preparing certain relics which he had brought from the Holy Land; thinking he heard a noise in the chapel during the night, Robert looked through the keyhole, and saw a great light, but when he asked one of the brethren about it next day he was bidden to hold his tongue as he valued his life.” …. now what could you do with that!

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