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Derby St Mary's Bridge

In the civil parish of Derby.
In the historic county of Derbyshire.
Modern Authority of Derby; City of.
1974 county of Derbyshire.
Medieval County of Derbyshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK35383676
Latitude 52.92714° Longitude -1.47566°

Derby St Mary's Bridge has been described as a probable Fortified Bridge.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


St Mary's Bridge, Derby is sometimes described as the site of the city's 'Stonegate', which apparently just consisted of a pair of wooden gates (Williamson 1931, 78). (Harrison et al 2010)

(SK 353367) : St Mary's Bridge was built in 1788-93 by Thomas Harrison, to replace the original medieval bridge. It has three semicircular arches and each buttress has a pedimented niche. (Jervoise; Pevsner) SK 353368. St Mary's Bridge, scheduled. St Mary's Bridge. Grade 2star. Site of St. Mary's Bridge, Medieval structure demolished 1789.
The Cartulary of Darley Abbey, temp. Edward I, refers to the bridge at Derby. Quite early in the 14th century, it appears that the bridge was already of such an age as to be in need of repair. The Patent Rolls of that time record several pontages, or grants to the burgesses of the right to collect tolls for the purpose of repairing the bridge. By the mid 14th century, if not before, a bridge chapel had been constructed (see SMR 18990). A description of the medieval bridge, prior to its demolition in 1789, states: 'All the Authors that ever wrote upon Derby are lavish with encomiums upon the beauty and elegance of St Mary's Bridge, which is a proof they never saw it .. Its praise arises from its extraordinary elevation, which is one of its greatest defects; it is an arch upon arches; a mountain erected upon a river. Human infirmity and loaded carriages drag up heavily; but all move over it dangerously, being so extremely narrow as to admit but one carriage; so that we may safely remark, it cannot be travelled two ways at once. The gravel is incessantly washed away, owing to the steep ascent, and the arches left naked'. The appearance of the old bridge is shown in a painting of around the end of the 17th century, showing the bridge to have run more or less on the level across the water, but possibly the ascent to that level from the bottom of Bridge Gate was particularly steep (Curry 1931).
A trench put down at the rear of St Mary's Bridge Chapel on the west bank of the Derwent in 1973 located a pier and cut-water of the medieval bridge. There are records of a bridge over the Derwent here as early as the reign of Edward I, but by 1789 the existing structure had become too narrow and hazardous to cope with wheeled traffic. It was demolished to make way for a new stone bridge, constructed on a different alignment from its predecessor, east west instead of south-east north-west. The 1973 excavations, together with a survey made in 1970 of pier foundations then visible in the river, enable an accurate reconstruction to be made of the medieval bridge. It appears to have consisted of eight spans, somewhat irregularly spaced. A wide selection of 18th century pottery, bottles and claypipes was recovered (Dool 1972).
A newly uncovered 'Prospect of Derby from the East' shows early 18th century Derby, and confirms that St Mary's Bridge had seven arches (Craven). (Derbyshire HER)

The bridge chapel survives but there seems little evidence of the possible gate on the bridge (or near to the west end), although a simple wooden gate would clearly be possible.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:54

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