Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trinity Bridge, Crowland

click photos to enlarge
The passing traveller, coming upon the Trinity Bridge in Crowland, Lincolnshire, might wonder at the purpose of this three-arched structure with its silent, eroded, king-like figure. This elaborate and massive pile of masonry bridges nothing but a footpath that passes below. Fortunately, a metal plaque fixed to the side of it reveals something of its history.

This medieval footbridge, built entirely of Barnack limestone and rubble, vaulted using semi-circular arches beneath and with steep, stepped and cobbled paths above, dates from about 1375. It was originally constructed as a way of crossing the junction of the rivers Nene and Welland, and is likely to have replaced a wooden triangular bridge that is recorded as having been there in 943. Presumably the name "Trinity" comes from the three routes that meet at its summit, and the three arches that allowed the passage of water below. The rivers that formerly flowed under the bridge were long ago re-routed away from the central streets of the small market town, leaving the the old structure looking somewhat forlorn and purposeless. Its unique design and historic importance has been recognised by its Grade 1 Listing.

What then of the sculpted figure fixed to the wall of the south side of the structure? The conjecture is that it dates from c.1260 (on stylistic grounds), and therefore predates the bridge. It probably represents Christ in kingly pose, with a crown and holding an orb, and is likely to have been brought from the abbey. There is speculation that it was placed on the bridge around 1720 when the abbey's west-front gable was taken down (it had been in disrepair from the time of the Dissoution of the Monasteries in the mid-sixteenth century), and perhaps it was one of the niche or apex figures of that great building. The fact is, nobody knows. However, this figure does give additional interest to Trinity Bridge, and acts like a watcher of all who walk to the top of it to take in the view down the town's broad market place, North Street.

It's very difficult to photograph the Trinity Bridge in a way that visually explains its structure. However, with the magic that is Google Street View it is now possible to almost circumnavigate it and see at a glance that which is difficult to capture in a single shot or put into words. My photograph of the elevation of the bridge is posted simply to give an idea of what I've been talking about. However, the shot of the figure is, to my mind, a better piece of photography. I was particularly pleased with its simplicity and with the way the lines, shadows and scupture work together.

photographs & text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1 - Figure
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 15mm (30mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Photo 2 - Bridge
Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On