Hardy’s bridge added to list for ‘care and at­ten­tion’

Western Daily Press - - News - ALEX ROSS alex.ross@reach­plc.com

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

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