Somerset Bridge, 96m south-west of Somerset Farm
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.
Somerset Bridge is well preserved despite post-medieval 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 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 17/10/14. This 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 north of Weyburn Works. The bridge is built of sandstone rubble and has three semi-circular arches. The central arch is lined with single rubble slab voussoirs, while the adjacent arches have been rebuilt in sandstone ashlar. In 1826 a western brick lined arch was added, as well as approaches to both terminals. The parapet consists of a low medieval stone wall topped by a later brick wall of about 1m high, which was possibly added in 1826. The bridge has rounded cutwaters downstream and pointed cutwaters upstream, which were modified at an unknown date. Three pairs of Victorian S-ties strengthen the bridge.
The Somerset Bridge is one of a chain of medieval bridges across 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 II*.
On the upstream (north-west) and downstream (south-east) sides the scheduling follows the outlines of the bridge, including abutments and cutwaters. At the north-eastern and south-western terminals it includes a 5m margin to protect the remains of the associated road surface.