Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005921
Date first listed: 01-Jun-1979
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Waverley (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SU 90539 43805
Elstead Bridge, 95m north-west of The Bridge House.
Reasons for Designation
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.
Elstead Bridge is well preserved despite later additions and its remains will provide evidence of medieval bridge construction. Its significance is further enhanced by its association with Waverley Abbey and a string of medieval bridges in the surrounding area, which provide a unique insight into the organisation of the medieval landscape. Deposits buried underneath the bridge will preserve valuable artefactual, ecofactual and environmental evidence, shedding a light on the human and natural history of the site prior to the construction of the bridge.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 11 December 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a medieval multi-span bridge situated across the River Wey at Elstead. The bridge is constructed of Bargate stone and sandstone rubble and includes seven semi-circular arches with double voussoirs. Five are visible, while the two easternmost arches are buried in the bank. The cutwaters are pointed on the upstream side and rounded on the downstream side. A brick parapet was added in 1826 and extends westwards above a Bargate stone wall of unknown date and an arch across a subsidiary stream, which was rebuilt in concrete. The medieval bridge was strengthened with three pairs of Victorian ties and was saddled in 1993. A concrete bridge was constructed immediately north of the medieval bridge to carry the eastbound traffic on the B3001, which is not included in the scheduling.
Elstead Bridge is one of a chain of medieval bridges along the River Wey between Farnham and Guildford, which are considered the work of the Cistercian Monks of Waverley Abbey. Similarities in construction suggest that they were built around the same time, possibly after the floods of 1233, when many of the earlier bridges were destroyed.
The bridge is listed Grade I.
On the upstream (south) and downstream (north) sides the scheduling follows the outlines of the bridge including abutments and cutwaters. At its eastern and western terminals, however, it includes a 2m margin to protect the remains of the associated road surface.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: SU 149
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Books and journals
, Renn, D. F. , The River Wey Bridges between Farnham and Guildford. In Research Volume of the Surrey Archaeological Society. No.1., (1974), 77-8
Surrey HER 1777
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing