Heritage Locations

Sutton Packhorse Bridge, Bedfordshire


With two pointed arches over the Potton Brook, a tributary of the Great Ouse, this bridge links the village of Sutton to its church.

Constructor:
Unclassified

Period of construction:
1000 - 1599

Transport Trust plaque:
No

Transport Mode:
Road

Address:
High Street, Sutton, Sandy, bedfordshire SG19 2

Postcode:
SG19 2

Nearest Town:
Biggleswade

Heritage Centre:
No

The first bridges were probably of felled trees lain across the river (Stockbridge and Trowbridge both refer to tree trunk bridges) and then of worked timber.

The Romans built bridges in wood, and probably stone, but none remain in Britain. The oldest surviving timber bridge is over the River Ouse at Selby and dates from 1790.

The first simple stone bridges - clapper bridges comprise large slabs of stone rested on stone piers to span a stream or small river. Tarr Steps, which crosses the River Barle in Somerset, is the longest with 17 spans supporting stone slabs 5 feet wide. It is too narrow for carts but Pont Sarnddu in Carnarvonshire is ten feet across and wide enough for vehicles.

Packhorse bridges, small arched bridges, with very low parapets so as not to get in the way of the horse's panniers, can still be found for example at Wycoller in Lancashire, Moulton in Suffolk, and Fifehead Neville, Dorset.

More sophisticated stone bridges were built abundantly in the 13th century, the use of timber continued into the 16th century. The river Skell at Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire, is crossed by probably the oldest arched bridge in England. Thirteenth to fourteenth century bridges can be recognised by their pointed arches and by the V-shaped extensions over the cutwaters for pedestrian refuges. These were superseded by bridges which were ribbed under the arches (14/15century), and those with semi-circular arches.

But all of these styles are modified by the needs and knowledge of the locality. In the early eighteenth century Daniel Defoe observed "...the Nyd, smaller then the Wharfe, but furiously rapid, and very dangerous to pass in many places, especially upon sudden rains. Notwithstanding, such lofty high built bridges are as not to be seen over such small rivers in any other place".

Masonry arch and cast iron bridges derive from the late 18th and 19th centuries. Bridges were usually made from local materials. In the eastern counties they were first built with timber and then brick.

In the middle of Sutton between the church and the main village, the Sutton Packhorse Bridge is a small two arch construction crafted from local sandstone sometime in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The bridge is believed to be the only surviving bridge of its type in the county. Originally only pedestrians and packhorses had the right of way but over time this was extended to include cyclists.

The bridge was part of one of the most frequented packhorse routes from the south to the north, and was also situated on an important trade route to wool towns such as Dunstable and Bedford.


Bibliography:
Addison, Sir William, The Old Roads of England, Harper Collins, ISBN 0 7134 1714 5 (1980)

Albert, W., The Turnpike Road System in England 1663- 1840, Cambridge University Press, ISBN O 5210 3391 8 (1972)

Challis, Chris, Packhorse Bridge, Aylestone, T. Savage, ASIN: B0007B7S02 7S02 (1986)

Harrison, David, The Bridges of Medieval England: Transport and Society 400-1800, Oxford University Press, ISBN-10: 0199226857 (2007)

Hartwell, Michael
, Illustrated Guide to the Packhorse Bridges of the Lake District, Ernest Press, ISBN-10: 0948153318 (1994)

Hinchcliffe, Ernest,
Guide to the Packhorse Bridges of England, Cicerone Press, ISBN-10: 1852841435 (1994)

Lewis, Carenza, Village, Hamlet and Field: Changing Medieval Settlements in Central England, Windgather Press, ISBN-10: 0953863034 (2001)

Williamson, Tom, Shaping Medieval Landscapes: Settlement, Society, Environment, Windgather Press, ISBN-10: 0954557581 (2004)


Opening Times:
Visible at all times.

How To Find:
By Road: The main road through Sutton crosses the stream at a ford beside the bridge. This road is a turning east ward off the B 1040 Road from Potton to Biggleswade.

Facilities:
http://weather.msn.com/RSS.aspx?wealocations=wc:10028494&weadegreetype=C


Biggleswade, GBR - Weather via MSN Weather

Weather conditions and forecast for Biggleswade, GBR


Current Conditions: Clear in Biggleswade, GBR (as of 10:50 PM 4/19/2014)

Current conditions (as of 10:50 PM)
Clear
Clear. 5°C (Feels like 2). Humidity: 87% Winds: 13 km/hr NNE.
All times shown are local to Biggleswade, GBR.
Detailed ten-day forecast   Hourly weather forecast    Weather maps    Weather averages


Forecast for Saturday, April 19, 2014 for Biggleswade, GBR

Today: Showers / Clear.Showers / Clear Lo: 4°C. Hi: 13°C. Chance of precipitation: 15%
Tomorrow: Showers / Clear.Showers / Clear Lo: 7°C. Hi: 17°C. Chance of precipitation: 60%
Monday: T-storms.T-storms Lo: 8°C. Hi: 19°C. Chance of precipitation: 65%
Tuesday: Showers / Clear.Showers / Clear Lo: 7°C. Hi: 16°C. Chance of precipitation: 90%
Wednesday: Showers / Clear.Showers / Clear Lo: 7°C. Hi: 19°C. Chance of precipitation: 90%

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