Ancient Monuments

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The Hanging Bridge immediately south of Manchester Cathedral

A Scheduled Monument in City Centre, Manchester

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Latitude: 53.4847 / 53°29'5"N

Longitude: -2.2448 / 2°14'41"W

OS Eastings: 383854.907576

OS Northings: 398696.151283

OS Grid: SJ838986

Mapcode National: GBR DJF.MT

Mapcode Global: WHB9G.HN9W

Entry Name: The Hanging Bridge immediately south of Manchester Cathedral

Scheduled Date: 15 November 1923

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020983

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33889

County: Manchester

Electoral Ward/Division: City Centre

Built-Up Area: Manchester

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester

Church of England Parish: Manchester Cathedral

Church of England Diocese: Manchester


The monument includes the standing and buried remains of a medieval bridge
now incorporated in the basement of the visitor's centre for Manchester
Cathedral. The remains are located between Cathedral Yard and Cateaton
Street. The bridge was originally built to span the Hanging Ditch which
was an improved natural watercourse which led past the church, as the
cathedral then was, and joined the River Irwell to the north. The ditch
was a part of the defences of the medieval town, which lay to the north,
and connected the road from Chester to the town centre. The name of the
bridge is believed to derive from the wooden bridge, previously on this
site, which was suspended over the ditch and was removable.

The bridge is documented from the 14th century and the fabric of the
present bridge dates from the 15th century although there appear to be two
different phases of construction.

The remains consist of two arches of red sandstone, the southern arch
strengthened by three stone ribs. It measures approximately 3m in width
and each arch spans 5.13m. One buttress survives on the eastern side. The
arches rise to 3m above the abutments and central pier.

All the modern walls, concrete capping and the walkway constructed above
the remains 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

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.

The Hanging Bridge immediately south of Manchester Cathedral is a rare
survival of a medieval structure in the city centre. It is particularly
notable for its context, close to the cathedral and is related by
excavation to the Hanging Ditch and the medieval defences of the town. It
survives in good condition and recent refurbishing of the buildings and
environment which overlie and surround the monument have brought the
remains into prominence as an educational and recreational enhancement for
the public.

Source: Historic England


Greater Manchester Sites and Monuments Register, (2001)

Source: Historic England

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