Hardy’s bridge added to list for ‘care and attention’
AN Elizabethan bridge that reopened this week after a partial collapse has been added to England’s list of threatened heritage.
The grade two-listed Wool Bridge, over the River Frome in Dorset, dates back to the 16th century and is featured in Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
After heavy rain last Christmas, cracks appeared in the stonework and highways bosses closed the bridge, which is used only by pedestrians and cyclists.
Today, in the same week the bridge was reopened, Historic England has added the structure to its Heritage at Risk Register.
The organisation has been working with Dorset County Council through the repairs, and hopes to now uncover historic artefacts from the crossing.
A river crossing has been at the site since 1244.
It joins 1,489 historic buildings and scheduled monuments, 911 places of worship, 2,151 archaeological sites, 99 parks and gardens, four battlefields and four protected wreck sites and 502 conserva- tion areas on the register.
Ward councillor for Wool, in Purbeck, Cherry Brooks, welcomed the bridge’s addition to the register.
She said: “I’m delighted that Historic England has taken an interest in the bridge – it is of local and national importance and is said to feature in Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
“The crossing is the first thing you see when you come into Wool and I hope now it can continue to be maintained for future use.”
Following closure of the bridge in January, a reinforced concrete retaining wall was fixed to stop future erosion and support its structure – work that was completed in October.
A temporary scaffold footbridge has now been removed.
Also added to the register is the Guise Mausoleum in Elmore, near Gloucester.
The mausoleum was built in 1733 and is in the churchyard of the grade one listed St John the Baptist Church.
It is intended to replicate that of a contemporary engraving erroneously believed to be Virgil’s Tomb, in Italy. But its roof caved in more than a century ago.
Historic England is supporting The Mausolea and Monuments Trust to ‘consolidate’ the site.
As well as adding 242 sites to the register, many that were already on the list have now been saved. They include Llanthony Priory in Gloucester and Clarendon Palace in Wiltshire.
John Ette, heritage at risk principal in the South West for Historic England, said: “The Heritage at Risk Register is a way we can highlight places in the region that need care and attention.
“We added Wool Bridge to the register because of the collapse earlier this year, and we have worked with Dorset County Council to advise on repairs that take account of the historical significance of the bridge.
“We’ve also been supporting the local authority on using the repair project as an opportunity to record important archaeological information about the bridge site.”
I’m delighted that Historic England has taken an interest in
the bridge CHERRY BROOKS
Wool Bridge is featured in the novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles