070103.Bradford-on-Avon, Norman Era Bridge

January 3, 2007 at 6:01 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bradford-on-Avon, Bridges, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Christmas, Overcast, people, river, River Avon, towns, Vaults, Wiltshire | 13 Comments

Thanks for all the comments. There are a ton of great buildings around where I live now and am grateful for it. (However, I’d trade it all in for a Wendys.)


In keeping up the closer-look at the bridge theme, I took a train today to Bradford-upon-Avon, which is the next town over on the rail. It’s a beautiful little place with many old buildings. This is one of the oldest bridges in the UK. It has a Norman core but was widened and refaced.

The cupola-ed goiter at the back there, hanging off the side of the bridge was originally a chapel. Back in the day, chapels were oft built on bridges because in taking out your coin purse (hopefully hidden from pickpockets) to pay the toll to cross, you couldn’t hide it quickly enough when passing the chapel and a donation arose from guilt. That’s my interpretation anyway. Since bridges were rare, and good bridges (such as this one) were utilized by merchants on long journeys for moving their goods, the location of these chapels guaranteed easy-to-find places where travelers could quickly pray for their journey on the road ahead.

This one was converted into a prison (you can still see the bars on the window!)


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  1. tres beau pont, j’aime beaucoup le monument a l’entrée du pont.

    very beautiful bridge, I like much the monument has the entry of the bridge.

  2. One of the bridges over the Harlem River (McCombs Bridge?) has two little outrider buildings. They are just big enough for someone to stand up in and served as lookouts for the river traffic and pedestrians, I assume. Anyway, they are cute and have small ligthening rods on top. The entire bridge received a paint job a few years ago and has some nice detailing.

    BTW, Pittsburgh has some great lacy bridges. You’ll have to visit someday.

    Cheers for a happy 2007!

  3. What’s a wendy’s?

  4. Wendy’s,eh? That’s funny. I do crave hamburgers now and then and actual eat them (Burger King more likely). But I’d give them up for buildings like this to photograph on a regular basis. Excuse my ignorance (I could look it up), but how old is the Norman era?

  5. To respond to the last two comments (both excellent questions):
    1. Wendys is a restaurant chain (like McDonalds and Burger King…but better) that specializes in hamburgers. It was founded by the late Dave Thomas and gives generously to orphan charities.
    2. a) In England, the Norman Era starts after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when William the Bastard became William the Conqueror and didn’t have to pay the law clerk to change his name (although he did have to pay out every formerly Anglo-Saxon office in the land to his supporters).
    b) The Norman Era’s effect on the English language was its introduction of French into common English usuage, which affected over 70% of modern English.
    c) In architecture, a heavier set of Romanesque was developed in Normandy and carried over to England. Since all the old Anglo-Saxon bishops and abbots were soon replaced, the new Norman bishops and abbots demanded their home style to be built. They often changed the diocesan sees (like moving the See of Wells to Bath, where later it was again combined with Wells), which necessitated new buildings. These churches often had small round windows (although larger than previous Anglo-Saxon ones) and massive pier-columns that most often were hollow inside. (It’s the same deal for palaces, forts, and basic civil architecture.) It’s prominent in the 11th and 12th centuries, but peters out in England after the Normans introduce Gothic architecture with the Frenchman William of Sens’ new Canterbury Cathedral.
    d) In many places in the US, and elsewhere, there are examples of Norman Revival architecture, which was popular in the late 1890s through 1910s. It is a subcategory of Romanesque Revival, which is the more popular term (though less specific).
    e) In the US, Richardsonian Romanesque (pioneered by HH Richardson in Trinity Church, Boston) became the premier US architecture (for town halls, museums, post offices, courthouses, prisons) and can be seen in almost any town in the US that dates back to at least 1920. Although Richardsonian Romanesque was not based on Norman models but primarily on the cathedral in Salamanca, Spain, etc.

  6. such a fountain of knowledge (wendys kills your braincells though so watch out!!)……

  7. eh, i make it up. but what’s this about killing off braincells?

  8. gorge yerself on wendys and see young jam-es….

  9. From a chapel to a prison; sounds about right.

  10. […] Jane Austen, somerset, Overcast, Chisel Marks, Monkton Combe | Hostess: “…and these are our holding cells. I’m sure Ünterland has much larger ones, y’know, you being a whole country and all.” Guest […]

  11. Wow, beautiful or what! I can’t believe that the prison was on such a stunning bridge.

  12. That picture is very significative. For me it represents de evolution of man.
    You have an old stone bridge that looks from the Middle Ages, and on top of it you see a modern BMW. Very interesting

  13. I do recall reading somewhere that the clergy built the stone bridges in Norman England and charged tolls for their good works.

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