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Temple Old Bridge with adjacent ford and causeway

A Scheduled Monument in Blisland, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5343 / 50°32'3"N

Longitude: -4.6105 / 4°36'37"W

OS Eastings: 215094.411374

OS Northings: 73754.34369

OS Grid: SX150737

Mapcode National: GBR N7.HPK3

Mapcode Global: FRA 177N.7LY

Entry Name: Temple Old Bridge with adjacent ford and causeway

Scheduled Date: 15 January 1955

Last Amended: 24 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020638

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15575

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Blisland

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Neot

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes Temple Old Bridge, a mid-18th century road bridge
across the eastern headwater channel of the River Bedalder near the hamlet
of Temple on central Bodmin Moor. The monument also includes a refurbished
medieval causeway east of the bridge and a paved ford adjacent to the
south side of the bridge.
Temple Old Bridge spans the eastern of the river's two headwater channels
by a single arch from which the bridge's masonry sides and parapets extend
over both sloping river banks. On the east side, the earlier causeway
carries the road from the bridge across damp ground beyond the river bank.
The bridge has a round arch 3.05m across and up to 1.52m above the river bed.
The arch has a single ring of dressed granite voussoirs, flush with the sides
of the bridge but with a slightly projecting keystone. At each end of the arch
the voussoirs rest on a large flat granite slab. Coarser granite masonry lines
the vault beneath the bridge's 5.5m width. Under the arch, the riverbed is
roughly paved by granite slabs.
Beyond the arch, the sides of the bridge are faced by random granite
masonry. Variations and jointing within that masonry reveal two stages in
its construction. In the earliest stage, the bridge's masonry sides were
12.85m long on the south side and 11.05m long on the north, surviving to a
height roughly level with the top of the arch but rising to about 0.3m
above the arch itself. The fabric of this masonry comprises granite
blocks, generally 0.2m-0.3m long and 0.1m high, whose outer faces were
neatly dressed flat. Larger slabs retained a vertical edge at each end of
these original sides of the bridge. At a later date the sides were
extended, except on the west of the north side, and raised to give the
present extent of the bridge's sides and parapets: 22m long and up to 2.9m
high on the south; 16.65m long and up to 2.25m high on the north. The
fabric of the later masonry is quite different, using mostly smaller
granite rubble about 0.1m-0.2m long, less neatly dressed, and stepped out
by up to 0.1m where it extends from the ends of the earlier masonry. The
bridge parapets as now visible are largely attributable to this later
phase. Rising directly from the sides of the bridge and about 0.45m wide,
they include a flat-topped central section up to 1.05m above the
carriageway. From that, the parapets slope down to carriageway level and
terminate on a flat slab at each end except at the west end of the north
parapet where an upright block defines the central section from a modern
hedgebank continuing its line. By analogy with similar datable bridge
parapets in Cornwall, the extension of the bridge sides and provision of
these parapets are considered to date from the early 19th century. The
parapets have a decorative coping of small end- and edge-set slabs along
each face. The carriageway defined by the parapets is 4.65m-4.75m wide,
mostly occupied by the modern metalled road.
Beyond the bridge's eastern end, the road is carried over the damp ground of
the valley floor on a raised causeway visible up to 20.3m beyond the bridge's
parapets. Generally 6m wide and rising about 0.7m to a flat top 5m wide, the
southern edge of the causeway is reinforced by granite blocks and rubble
extending 5.8m beyond the east end of the bridge's southern parapet. Beyond
this, the causeway's southern side bulges outwards beyond the projected side
of the causeway, with a slope up to 1.25m high on which are scattered several
large granite slabs. This bulge is considered to comprise debris produced by
the modification of a medieval causeway recorded here before the adjacent 18th
century bridge was built. More recent additions from road resurfacing account
for a lobe extending west from the bulge alongside the causeway.
Beside the southern face of the bridge's arch, the river bed and adjacent
lower slopes of the river banks are roughly paved by granite slabs and cobbles
extending at least 2.9m south from the bridge, giving a fording point
certainly in use contemporary with the bridge and possibly earlier, serving
the medieval causeway across this valley floor.
The road formerly carried by Temple Old Bridge was the main medieval and later
route across Cornwall following the spine of the peninsula. The early
importance of this route is reflected by 12th century foundation of a hospice
at Temple by the Knights Templar, who built causeways across the marshy
headwaters of the River Bedalder to each side of Temple. These causeways,
mentioned in a charter of 1241, fixed the course of the main route across this
part of Bodmin Moor and remained in use when a Turnpike Act was passed in 1769
allowing the improvement of the road from Launceston to Bodmin and Indian
Queens. One result of the turnpiking was the construction of Temple Old Bridge
and the refurbishment of the adjacent causeway to serve it. The narrow,
winding course of the road through Temple proved an obstacle on what was
described as a rapid road by the poet Robert Southey when he travelled along
it in 1802. Consequently, and before 1870, the main road was rerouted north
of Temple, bypassing Temple Old Bridge with the Temple New Bridge 330m to the
north and beyond this scheduling. Temple New Bridge, refurbished to carry a
dual carriageway, still takes the main route across Cornwall, the A30T in the
modern road classification, while Temple Old Bridge is crossed by a minor
unclassified road serving only the small hamlet at Temple itself.
The surface of the modern metalled road, the modern hedgebank and
post-and-wire fence west of the northern parapet are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval and early post-medieval single span bridges are structures designed
to carry a road or track over a river by means of a single arch, typically 3m-
6m in span. They were constructed throughout the medieval period, most
commonly using timber. Stone began to be used instead of timber in the 12th
century and became increasingly common in the 14th and 15th centuries. Many
medieval bridges were repaired, modified or extensively rebuilt in the post-
medieval period. During the medieval period the construction and maintenance
of bridges was frequently carried out by large estates and the Church,
especially monastic institutions which developed long distance packhorse
routes between their landholdings. Some stone built medieval bridges still
survive. These can be classified into three main types based on the profile of
the arch which is typically pointed, semi-circular or flattened. A common
medieval feature is the presence of stone ashlar ribs underneath the arch. The
bridge abutments and revetting of the river banks also form part of the
bridge. Where medieval bridges have been altered in later centuries, original
features are sometimes concealed behind later stonework, including remains of
earlier timber bridges. Bridges were common and important features of medieval
towns and the countryside and allowed easy access along a well developed road
and trackway system. However, only around 16 largely unaltered medieval single
span bridges have so far been recognised to survive in England. All these are
considered to be of national importance. A larger number retain significant
medieval or post-medieval remains, allowing the original form of the bridge to
be determined. These examples are also nationally important.

Temple Old Bridge survives well, the bypassing of its route prior to the late
19th century leaving it as an unusually little-altered example of a bridge
built specifically for the turnpiking of a major road. The extension of the
bridge and its provision with parapets show some of the development in
standards affecting such bridges by the mid-19th century, features again
usually masked or removed by later upgrading in bridges that still serve their
original main routes. The bridge's direct physical association with a medieval
causeway is rare, while the survival of a paved ford alongside the bridge is
unusual whether it is contemporary with or earlier than the bridge. The
juxtaposition of the causeway, ford and bridge in this scheduling and their
proximity to the Temple New Bridge beyond, carrying the modern A30 trunk road,
provide an unusually clear demonstration of the considerable development of
river crossings and of the highway system during and since the medieval
period. The features in this scheduling are much enhanced by the surviving
historical records bearing on their origins, ranging from the Charter of 1241
documenting the causeway's contemporaneity with the Knights Templar's hospice
at Temple to the 1769 Turnpike Act under whose authority Temple Old Bridge was

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Axford, E C , Bodmin Moor, (1975)
Axford, E C , Bodmin Moor, (1975)
Balchin, WGV, The Cornish Landscape, (1983)
Halliday, F E, A History of Cornwall, (1975)
Halliday, F E, A History of Cornwall, (1975)
Henderson, C, Coates, H, Old Cornish Bridges and Streams, (1928)
Henderson, C, Coates, H, Old Cornish Bridges and Streams, (1928)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1828, (2001)
DCMS, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 383, 1955,
Title: 1": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map sheet 30 Camelford
Source Date: 1879

Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map SX 17 SE
Source Date: 2001

Title: 25": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Mapping for the area around Temple Old Bridge
Source Date:
1880 and 1907 editions
Title: 25": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Mapping of the area around Temple Old Bridge
Source Date:
1880 & 1907 editions
Title: 25": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Mapping of the area around Temple Old Bridge
Source Date: 1880

Title: 25": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Mapping of the area around Temple Old Bridge
Source Date: 1907

Vulliamy C J, AM 107 FMW report for CO 383 Temple Old Bridge, (1996)
Vulliamy C J, AM 107 FMW report for SAM CO 383 Temple Old Bridge, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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