Talk on 22 July 2021
At this event, the wonderful John Allan talked to us via Zoom about the Exe Bridge, the most substantial survivor of the great bridges built in England in the 12th and early 13th centuries. These were novel and daring feats of engineering built over wide spans of fast-flowing water; nothing like them had been seen in Britain since Roman times, and even then stone bridges were rare.
The bridge originally was about 240m long with 17 or 18 arches.The surviving monument is about 80m and consists of nine arches. The portion which extended over the floodplain of the Exe was replaced in 1776–8 and in 1905, and then by concrete bridges in 1969 and 1972.
It had, uniquely, three medieval chapels (St Edmund’s, St Thomas’ and St Mary’s) and also three almshouses and a ‘Pixy House’ (public lavatory) on the bridge. By the late 13th century several houses stood on the bridge and by the 17th and 18th centuries there were more than 30 – one of the most picturesque sights of Georgian Exeter, captured by artists including Turner.
The costs of maintaining the bridge were paid from the rents of more than 70 properties: Cricklepit Mill, houses on and around Exe Bridge and properties within Exe