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Alresford Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in New Alresford, Hampshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.0926 / 51°5'33"N

Longitude: -1.1617 / 1°9'42"W

OS Eastings: 458803.223255

OS Northings: 132925.087375

OS Grid: SU588329

Mapcode National: GBR 976.F3J

Mapcode Global: FRA 86G7.F7Z

Entry Name: Alresford Bridge

Scheduled Date: 15 September 1936

Last Amended: 3 September 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021111

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33405

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: New Alresford

Built-Up Area: New Alresford

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: New Alresford St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Winchester

Details

The monument includes Alresford Bridge, a late 12th century stone single
arched bridge, spanning the overflow channel from Old Alresford Pond. It
is also known as the Soke Bridge and is Listed Grade II*. The bridge and
pond were created by Godfrey de Lucy, Bishop of Winchester (1189-1204), as
part of a scheme to make the River Itchen navigable from its source at
Bramdean to Winchester and Southampton. Alresford Pond, which originally
covered 200 acres (approximately 81ha), acted as a reservoir, in which the
water of several local streams was collected to be channelled through the
River Alre to the River Itchen.
Alresford Bridge was constructed c.1190 and comprises a single gothic arch
of cut stone voussoirs, which remains visible on the downstream (north
west) side. Underneath the arch at water level are rectangular recesses,
which may have supported a timber framework during the construction of the
bridge. The arch is flanked by two stepped stone buttresses, of which the
easternmost is encased within the wall supporting the neighbouring patio.
The medieval bridge, which measures approximately 3m wide, was modified and
extended in at least two stages. The bridge was widened on the upstream (south
east) side with a 3m wide brick arch at an unknown date before 1870, as mapped
evidence suggests. During the 17th century a brick parapet was added on the
downstream side, topped by copings, which are possibly the original reused
12th century stones. The upstream face of the bridge was modified in 1881,
when a red brick arch and parapet were added.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: the
post-medieval extensions, such as the brick parapets and arch, which are
protected through their listed status, the adjacent pavement and patio
surfaces on the downstream side, fences and lamp-posts, the modern tarmac
surfacing of the bridge and all adjacent buildings. The bridge fabric
beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

Alresford Bridge, despite post-medieval additions, remains well-preserved
and is amongst the earliest stone bridges surviving nationally. Its
remains will provide rare evidence of early medieval masonry bridge
construction and offers a testimony to the engineering work which made the
River Itchen navigable and transformed the area economically. Deposits
preserved underneath the bridge will preserve valuable artefact and
environmental evidence, shedding light on the human and natural history of
the site prior to construction.

Source: Historic England

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