Medieval builders' wheel
Our first favourite object, the medieval builders' wheel, was used over 600 years ago in the building of the famous Crooked Spire church.
Heavy building materials were attached to a rope wound round the axle of the windlass, and then lifted by a person getting inside and treading the wheel around. The wheel was installed as high up on the building as possible and would be dismantled and moved up again as construction progressed. The medieval carpenters marked each piece of timber so they could easily take it apart and put it back together again.
Very few of these machines have survived to the present day, and our wheel is unusual in being easily accessible in the museum rather than still high up in the tower of its church. It was removed in 1947 and rebuilt in 1994, and has remained in the museum ever since.