High Bridge - History and Facts | History Hit

High Bridge


Peta Stamper

23 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About High Bridge

High Bridge in Lincoln, England, is a medieval bridge that carries the High Street across the River Witham. It is the oldest bridge in the United Kingdom still to have buildings on it, and having stood since the 12th century, today is a Grade I listed building and scheduled monument.

High Bridge history

High Bridge was originally built in 1160 AD with a bridge chapel on the side, dedicated to the murdered Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, in 1235 although later removed in 1762. Bridge chapels were commonly-used medieval sanctuaries for travellers, although few remain in England today. The bridge saw the addition of its characteristic timber-framed shops from around 1550, similar in style to London Bridge.

Since the 14th century, the bridge has led to floods in Lincoln and after heavy rain you cannot get underneath it. At one time, a large stone obelisk was added to the bridge to mark a water supply outlet, however this was removed in the 1930s over fears its weight would damage the bridge.

High Bridge today

Today, the medieval stone arched bridge continues to cross the River Witham, one of only 3 remaining bridges with buildings on it (the others are Pulteney Bridge in Bath and Frome Bridge in Somerset). The shop fronts are now occupied by a cafe and a traditional English bakery – another great reason to visit this medieval landmark.

High Bridge is also commonly known as the ‘Glory Hole’, which is the only passage from the River Witham to the ancient harbour at Brayford Pool connecting to Fossdyke Canal. The canal was built by the Romans, was later restored by King Henry I in 1121, and linked Lincoln with the River Trent.

To get the best view of the bridge, look for the steps leading down the side to a river walkway below.

Getting to High Bridge

Located in central Lincoln, the High Bridge is found on foot when walking down the city’s high street. For those using public transport, buses 23, 777 and WR stop at the Stonebow Centre which is just a 10 minute walk from the bridge. Otherwise, for those driving the bridge is found just off Wigford Way – past the train station and just off the A1434.

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