Vanishing England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about Vanishing England.

We give an illustration of the Crane Bridge, Salisbury, a small Gothic bridge near the Church House, and seen in conjunction with that venerable building it forms a very beautiful object.  Another illustration shows the huge bridge at Huntingdon spanning the Ouse with six arches.  It is in good preservation, and has an arcade of Early Gothic arches, and over it the coaches used to run along the great North Road, the scene of the mythical ride of Dick Turpin, and doubtless the youthful feet of Oliver Cromwell, who was born at Huntingdon, often traversed it.  There is another fine bridge at St. Neots with a watch-tower in the centre.

The little town of Bradford-on-Avon has managed to preserve almost more than any other place in England the old features which are fast vanishing elsewhere.  We have already seen that most interesting untouched specimen of Saxon architecture the little Saxon church, which we should like to think is the actual church built by St. Aldhelm, but we are compelled to believe on the authority of experts that it is not earlier than the tenth century.  In all probability a church was built by St. Aldhelm at Bradford, probably of wood, and was afterwards rebuilt in stone when the land had rest and the raids of the Danes had ceased, and King Canute ruled and encouraged the building of churches, and Bishops Dunstan and AEthelwold of Winchester were specially prominent in the work.  Bradford, too, has its noble church, parts of which date back to Norman times; its famous fourteenth-century barn at Barton Farm, which has a fifteenth-century porch and gatehouse; many fine examples of the humbler specimens of domestic architecture; and the very interesting Kingston House of the seventeenth century, built by one of the rich clothiers of Bradford, when the little town (like Abingdon) “stondeth by clothing,” and all the houses in the place were figuratively “built upon wool-packs.”  But we are thinking of bridges, and Bradford has two, the earlier one being a little footbridge by the abbey grange, now called Barton Farm.  Miss Alice Dryden tells the story of the town bridge in her Memorials of Old Wiltshire.  It was originally only wide enough for a string of packhorses to pass along it.  The ribbed portions of the southernmost arches and the piers for the chapel are early fourteenth century, the other arches were built later.  Bradford became so prosperous, and the stream of traffic so much increased, and wains took the place of packhorses, that the narrow bridge was not sufficient for it; so the good clothiers built in the time of James I a second bridge alongside the first.  Orders were issued in 1617 and 1621 for “the repair of the very fair bridge consisting of many goodly arches of freestone,” which had fallen into decay.  The cost of repairing it was estimated at 200 marks.  There is a building on the bridge corbelled out on a specially built pier of the bridge, the use of which is not at first sight evident.  Some people call it the watch-house,

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Vanishing England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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