Ancient Monuments

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Beggar's Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Glaisdale, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4386 / 54°26'19"N

Longitude: -0.7921 / 0°47'31"W

OS Eastings: 478440.028995

OS Northings: 505474.855721

OS Grid: NZ784054

Mapcode National: GBR QKX3.9M

Mapcode Global: WHF8X.TP0M

Entry Name: Beggar's Bridge

Scheduled Date: 30 March 1925

Last Amended: 15 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021022

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34725

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Glaisdale

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Glaisdale St Thomas

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a single arched packhorse bridge across the River
Esk, 150m south east of Glaisdale railway station, aproximately 300m north
east of Carr End. The bridge is Listed Grade II*.

Beggar's Bridge was built in 1619 by Tom Ferris, a wealthy merchant who
became Sheriff of Hull in 1614 and Mayor in 1620. Legend has it that he
was originally the son of a poor Egton farmer and loved Agnes Richardson,
daughter of a squire across the River Esk in Glaisdale. Ferris was
rejected as a suitor and denounced as a beggar by the squire. He thus
resolved to go to sea to seek his fortune, but was prevented from saying
good-bye to Agnes by floods making the river impassable. After making his
fortune in the Caribbean, Ferris returned to marry Agnes and built a
bridge to help future lovers. Beggar's Bridge may incorporate stonework
from a 14th century bridge that had collapsed by 1577.

The bridge is built with roughly coursed sandstone and has a single arch
that is segmental, spanning just over 15m. Below the arch on both
abutments, there are paired corbels which probably supported the temporary
timber work used during the construction of the bridge. The deck is
flagged and is nearly 2m wide between parapets which are 0.75m high. These
parapets have two courses and lean slightly outwards. They may be a later
addition to the bridge as the stone is herring-bone dressed rather than
pecked like most of the rest of the stonework. At the centre of the
downstream, southern parapet is a 1619 date stone which also carries the
heavily weathered initials of Thomas Ferris. The approach ramps are
cobbled and do not have parapets, the side walls forming low kerbs. The
eastern ramp approaches from the north and curves around to meet the
bridge, the western ramp runs straight but splays slightly outwards. The
base of the eastern abutment, facing the river, is stepped with the lowest
step protected against river scour by a modern concrete apron.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

Beggar's Bridge is a very fine example of an early post-medieval single
span bridge that has survived effectively unaltered.

Source: Historic England


R H Fox, Packhorse Bridges of England, 1974, Unpublished manuscript

Source: Historic England

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