Tuesday, December 28, 2010

High Bridge, Lincoln

click photos to enlarge
High Bridge, Lincoln is the only remaining medieval bridge in England that carries shops and houses. London Bridge, of nursery rhyme fame, was the most notable of a number of these interesting structures, but, with the exception of the example shown above, they have all "fallen down". Quite a few bridges with buildings on them do remain in Britain. Pulteney Bridge (1773) in Bath is the most famous example of a later date, but many smaller structures can be seen that were built in the medieval period.

High Bridge is on the High Street in Lincoln, and crosses the River Witham. The stone arched structure below the buildings and road is thought to date from the C12, C13 and C16, and have been subject to the most recent restoration in 1902. The row of shops was restored at that time too. It has a ground floor partly constructed of stone and brick, with timber-framed, jettied, first and second floors. The framing is of the "close-studded" variety, and the facade facing the road has shallow oriel-like windows. Much of the original woodwork survives, and the ground buildings are still occupied today with shops and a cafe.

I took the main photograph as I passed by on a shopping expedition with one of my sons. It was taken against the light which had the effect of accentuating the "black and white work" and showing off the details of the facade. My recent reading has included Jason Mordan's "Timber-Frame Buildings of Nottinghamshire" which discusses the reasons for the development of this style of building. This is something I have touched on elsewhere, but the author makes one observation that hadn't occurred to me. Early timber-framed buildings usually have long curved "crucks", a pair of which reach from the ground to the level of the roof ridge, and form part of both the wall and the roof: the longest structural piece of wood needed for a jettied timber-framed building is the height of a floor. Moreover, each of the wall frames can be assembled before they are put into place if so desired.

You can see something of the advantages and disadvantages of the later, more developed timber-framing in this building (High Bridge may be from around 1540). By the second half of the seventeenth century the style was mainly used for farm buildings, and by the eighteenth century brick had completely supplanted timber in the areas where there was no building stone.

photographs and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 105mm
F No: f6.
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On