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Lerryn Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in St. Veep, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3848 / 50°23'5"N

Longitude: -4.6166 / 4°36'59"W

OS Eastings: 214081.927458

OS Northings: 57154.628346

OS Grid: SX140571

Mapcode National: GBR N7.T1ZC

Mapcode Global: FRA 1860.Z4Z

Entry Name: Lerryn Bridge

Scheduled Date: 14 January 1939

Last Amended: 6 December 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020811

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15577

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Veep

Built-Up Area: Lerryn

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Veep

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes Lerryn Bridge which crosses the River Lerryn at the
village of Lerryn in south east Cornwall. The bridge is of late medieval
origin with repairs documented from the 1570s. Lerryn Bridge is a Listed
Building Grade II*.
The bridge crosses the River Lerryn close to its highest tidal reach as it
flows into one arm of the Fowey estuary. The bridge spans the river north
west-south east by two unequal arches linked by a central pier; from
abutments at each end, a masonry-faced causeway carries the road over
adjacent low ground. Both arches are of pointed four-centred form,
typically late 15th-early 16th century in date: the larger north west arch
has a span of 3.89m while the smaller and flatter south east arch spans
2.44m. Each arch has a single ring of chamfered granite voussoirs flanking
a vault lined by neatly dressed granite slabs. The line from which the
arches spring, called the impost, is emphasised on both sides of each arch
by a moulded granite string-course which extends around pointed cutwaters
at each end of the central pier. Below parapet level the central pier is
faced by coursed and neatly dressed granite slabs, called ashlar, which
distinguish the bridge's late medieval facing. Granite ashlar also lines
the riverside faces of both abutments and the sides of the bridge below
the parapet between the pier and the apex of each arch. A further remnant
of ashlar also survives outside the lowest voussoir above the riverbank
abutment at each side of the north west arch. By contrast, a line of
granite slabs below the parapet from the apex of the south east arch to
above the south east riverbank abutment is later relaid material overlying
masonry of random slaty rubble which characterises the repaired facings of
the 1570s and all later work. Such slate masonry faces the remainder of
the bridge's sides, including the causeways carrying the highway over the
riverbank slopes. From behind each abutment, both sides of the causeways
are steeply buttressed, sloping out below the parapets. The sides of the
bridge and its causeways rise above the carriageway as parapets, generally
0.5m-0.6m high, also in slate masonry but finished with granite coping
slabs, mostly flat-topped and pitted for plugs to hold iron cramps that
are now missing. The central pier's cutwaters are carried up into the
parapets as refuges on each side. Some relatively limited areas of repair
and repointing are apparent along the parapets. The carriageway defined by
the parapets reduces to 2.9m wide near the centre of the bridge, but
widens gradually along each causeway. An early episode of widening is
evident on the north east of the south east causeway where a granite slab
supports the parapet across the step between the buttressed causeway side
and the adjacent face of the narrower bridge. A similar method occurs
elsewhere in this region dated to the 18th to early 19th century. Lerryn
Bridge was mentioned, as `Lerrine Bridge', by John Leland, the King's
Antiquary, who crossed it in about 1535. The later 16th century repairs
are documented as an Order of 1573 from Queen Elizabeth I to the Bailiff
and Constables of the administrative district of the West requiring them
to levy a rate for `the erecting and re-edifying of a decayed bridge
called Laryon Bridge'. Apart from producing the two markedly differing
fabrics now evident in the bridge's facing, it has been suggested that the
number of arches may have been reduced from three to two during this or
another phase of repairs, losing a former small north western arch that
would have given the bridge a more symmetrical elevation.
The bridge at Lerryn supplements a ford, beyond this scheduling, crossing
the river 125m downstream and still extant with stepping stones. The
pattern of roads approaching these two crossing points suggests the ford
provided the earlier crossing in line with a direct route to the parish
church at St Veep, an early road on which other roads in the vicinity
terminate. By contrast the road to Lerryn Bridge forms a detour
duplicating and north east of the direct route and crossed by other routes
along the lower valley sides.
The route carried by Lerryn Bridge, and the nearby fording point, is one
of several radiating from the town of Lostwithiel, until the later 14th
century an important port and the chief medieval administrative centre for
the Duchy of Cornwall in the south west of England. As Lostwithiel
declined due to silting in the upper reaches of the Fowey estuary, trade
increased in the ports further down the estuary, notably at Fowey itself
but also at the smaller coastal villages and creeks including that at
Lerryn and along the estuarine Lerryn River where a number of small quays
and slipways now lie abandoned. Lerryn Bridge, crossing the head of the
creek with a direct link to Cornwall's southern main route at Lostwithiel,
was an important asset bringing sea-borne trade to Lerryn. In the 19th
century that included coal, limestone and agricultural produce, along with
a specific trading link to the nearby Herodsfoot Gunpowder Mills. By the
early 20th century maritime coastal trade was in rapid decline, overtaken
by railways and improved roads. This reduced pressures on roads serving
that maritime trade, including Lerryn Bridge: the bridge now carries an
unclassified road in a network of such roads serving the dispersed hamlets
east of the Fowey estuary, with greatest traffic flows during the summer
tourist season.
The modern metalled road surface, the modern kerbing and bollards
restricting the present carriageway width, all modern signposts, the seat
hardstandings, all electricity cables and garden furniture are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Multi-span bridges are structures of two or more arches supported on
piers. They were constructed throughout the medieval period for the use
of pedestrians and packhorse or vehicular traffic, crossing rivers or
streams, often replacing or supplementing earlier fords. During the early
medieval period timber was used, but from the 12th century stone (and
later brick) bridges became more common, with the piers sometimes
supported by a timber raft. Most stone or brick bridges were constructed
with pointed arches, although semicircular and segmental examples are also
known. 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. The roadway was
often originally cobbled or gravelled. The building and maintenance of
bridges was frequently carried out by the church and by guilds, although
landowners were also required to maintain bridges. From the mid-13th
century the right to collect tolls, known as pontage, was granted to many
bridges, usually for repairs; for this purpose many urban bridges had
houses or chapels on them, and some were fortified with a defensive
gateway. Medieval multi-span bridges must have been numerous throughout
England, but most have been rebuilt or replaced and less than 200 examples
are now known to survive. As a rare monument type largely unaltered,
surviving examples and examples that retain significant medieval and post-
medieval fabric are considered to be of national importance.

Lerryn Bridge survives well, despite some recent parapet repairs, as a
late medieval bridge repaired very early in the post-medieval period: its
documented royal Order for repair in 1573 shows unusually clearly one
means of achieving bridge repairs after the demise of the monastic
responsibility for bridge and highway maintenance. The resulting contrast
between the granite ashlar of the late medieval facing and the local slate
rubble deployed in the post-medieval repairs illustrates well the
differences both in style and levels of resourcing available to sponsors
of bridge building of the late medieval and early post-medieval periods.
The presence nearby of the ford in the early route across the river from
which subsequent roads access the bridge, coupled with the role of the
bridge in the rise and fall of Lerryn's maritime trade, shows the
considerable development of river crossings and their potential for
affecting the highway system and their landscape setting since the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gill, C, The Duchy of Cornwall, (1987)
Henderson, C, Coates, H, Old Cornish Bridges and Streams, (1928)
Luck, L, South Cornish Harbours, (1988)
Pearse Chope, R , Early Tours in Devon & Cornwall, (1967)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 26974, (2001)
DCMS, Listed Building entry for SX 15 NW 6/121 Lerryn Bridge, (1964)
File for CCC Bridge Ref 20/141571, Cornwall County Council, Cornwall County Council Maintenance File for Lerryn Bridge, (2001)
From FMW visit on 29 Jan 1997, Vulliamy C J, AM 107 texts for Cornwall SAM CO 66 Lerryn Bridge, (1997)
Ministry of Works, AM7 Scheduling Documentation for CO 66 Lerryn Bridge, 1926, Original handwritten AM7
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map SX 15 NW
Source Date: 2001

Title: 25": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Mapping for the Lerryn area
Source Date:
1880 and 1907 Editions

Source: Historic England

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