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HER Number:MDV495
Name:Bridge Buildings, Bideford


Bridge Buildings built in the late 19th century on the site of Bridge Hall built in 1757 and the 17th century Bideford Free School.


Grid Reference:SS 454 264
Map Sheet:SS42NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBideford
Ecclesiastical ParishBIDEFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS42NE/9
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 375733

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PUBLIC BUILDING (XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Lysons, D. + Lysons, S., 1822, Magna Britannica, 52-53 (Monograph). SDV323771.

Department of National Heritage, 19/04/1993, Bideford, 23-24 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV338459.

Bridge Buildings. (Formerly Listed as: Bridge Street (North side) Bridge Hall. The Sundial)
Council offices. 1882 by WR Bideford. Carving by H Hems of Exeter. Squared local stone rubble (rough-faced in ground storey with a marked batter below sill-level); details in Ham stone. Four tall red brick chimneys with tops designed as entablatures, the 3 on the sides fronting Bridge Street and The Quay with pilasters strips on the sides.
Plan approximately square with entrance-hall and staircase in centre of Bridge Street side. Renaissance style. 3 lofty storeys on side facing The Quay, 4 storeys to Bridge Street, 3 storeys to Allhalland Street. Main fronts to Bridge Street and The Quay of 6-window range, the 2 middle windows set in slight projections. Front to The Quay has segmental-headed ground-storey windows with moulded architraves and scroll-keystones. Continued moulded sills; entablature above window-heads. Second-storey windows flat-headed with rounded top corners, moulded surrounds and hood-moulds with carved terminals. Below them, panels of carved foliage and cartouches or, in the centre projection, half-balusters. Outer window in third storey have flat heads and moulded surrounds, being finished above eaves-level with shaped pediments. Round-arched windows in centre with moulded architraves and keystones, these flanked and separated by pilasters with carved capitals supporting an entablature and segmental pediment; the latter is a replacement of the original ogee-shaped gable with carved front and small segmental pediment. Beneath the window a pair of stringcourses forming an entablature. Bridge Street front is similar but with less regularity, since both the centre projection and the left side have 4 tiers of windows compared with 3 on the right. The centre projection is finished with a pedestal flanked by scroll-buttresses and carved with a cartouche and swags. An old photograph shows the pedestal, or its predecessor, surmounted by a segmental pediment. The shaped pediments which formerly topped the outer third-storey window have been removed. Between the second-storey windows of the centre projection is a painted sundial, described in the 1973 list as 'from earlier building'; if so, it has been very thoroughly restored. Front to Allhalland Street is plain, though with entablatures, stringcourses and continued sills carried round.
Interior: open-well stone staircase with iron balustrade, scrolled at the foot. Plain square-section balusters with S-scrolls fitted in between their tops. On the walls of the compartment, 4 stone coats-of-arms, one inscribed LEWIS BUCK ESQUR. MAYOR 1758. Rooms not inspected.
Perkin's Almanack of 1883 (p16) describes this as Bridge Hall. 'Here are held the School of Science and Art classes; the Free Library; North Devon Permanent and Terminable Building Society, the Bridge Feoffee Meetings, etc. etc.' The builder was R T Hookway of Bideford. Plaque in entrance-hall says building 'was rebuilt at the cost of the Bridge Estate... on the site of a Bridge Hall rebuilt AD 1758 and of a Free School rebuilt AD 1657 and repaired AD 1680 and 1780 and of a Grammar School founded AD 1689'. Other details: 375733.

Whiting, F. E., 1948, Bideford Bridge, 133 (Article in Serial). SDV18901.

In 1720 a small and dilapidated room was acquired next to the old Grammar School in Allhalland Street, and in 1757 the Trustees built their first Bridge Hall. This was described as "Spacious and ornamental with a commodious covered walk under it". The town stocks were kept under this covered walk. In 1882 the old Bridge Hall was demolished and the present Bridge Buildings erected on the site.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953 - 1977, SS42NE13 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV18941.

1. Bridge Buildings on site of Grammar School Rebuilt 1657
2. "There has been a grammar-school at Bideford from an early period, supported, it is probable, by the corporation, by whom the boys were appointed to be taught free of expense. The school house was re-built in 1657. It was repaired in 1780, and then newly fronted with brick".
3. A large building used as a free public library and solicitors offices. Built on the site of an ancient Grammar School.
4. A modern block of offices known as Bridge Buildings with no visible trace of antiquity.
5. The site of a free grammar school for 10 boys, rebuilt in 1657 and replaced by Bridge Hall in 1882.
6. Now part of the District Council offices, forms north east corner of Bridge Street. Built AD 1882. It incorporates no earlier remains.

Collinge, C. J., 1976, Charles Kingsley in Bideford, 19 (Article in Serial). SDV18938.

By 1868, the grammar school on Allhalland Street had only 19 pupils, and in 1877 new buildings were provided in North Down Rd. The old ones were pulled down, making room for the present Bridge Buildings.

Christie, P., 1985, In Retrospect (Article in Serial). SDV126107.

The Bridge Buildings, built in 1882 by the Bridge Trust - who virtually bankrupted themselves in doing it! About half way up the building a series of stone heads carved by Harry Hams of Exeter, a noted sculptor. There were earlier Bridge Buildings on this site, which housed the Town Hall, the Grammar School, the Library and the town stocks.

Exeter Archaeology, 1996, Archaeological Watching Brief: Refurbishment of Bridge Buildings, bideford (Report - Watching Brief). SDV18939.

Watching brief during excavation of lift shaft in 1996 identified rough stone walling, probably associated with construction of present building. A sherd of locally made medieval cooking pot of 1200-1470 may attest to earlier activity on the site Other details: Plan and drawings.

Rushton, N., 2006, River Torridge Pipeline, Bideford, Devon: Rapid Archaeological Appraisal, 7, 12; WA 13 (Report - Interim). SDV342463.

Torridge District Council, 2009, Bideford Conservation Area Appraisal, 14 (Report - non-specific). SDV351295.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV126107Article in Serial: Christie, P.. 1985. In Retrospect. The Gazette. Cutting + Digital.
SDV18901Article in Serial: Whiting, F. E.. 1948. Bideford Bridge. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 80. A5 Hardback. 133.
SDV18938Article in Serial: Collinge, C. J.. 1976. Charles Kingsley in Bideford. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 108. A5 Paperback. 19.
SDV18939Report - Watching Brief: Exeter Archaeology. 1996. Archaeological Watching Brief: Refurbishment of Bridge Buildings, bideford. Exeter Archaeology Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV18941Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953 - 1977. SS42NE13. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV323771Monograph: Lysons, D. + Lysons, S.. 1822. Magna Britannica. Magna Britannica: A Concise Topographical Account of The Several Counties o. 6: Devonshire. Unknown. 52-53.
SDV338459List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of National Heritage. 19/04/1993. Bideford. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 23-24.
SDV342463Report - Interim: Rushton, N.. 2006. River Torridge Pipeline, Bideford, Devon: Rapid Archaeological Appraisal. Wessex Archaeology Report. 62220.01. A4 Stapled. 7, 12; WA 13.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #93519 ]
SDV351295Report - non-specific: Torridge District Council. 2009. Bideford Conservation Area Appraisal. Torridge District Council Planning Guidance. Digital. 14.

Associated Monuments

MDV71759Related to: Bideford Free School, Allhalland Street, Bideford (Building)
MDV72759Related to: Bideford Grammar School, Bideford (Monument)
MDV72760Related to: Grammar School, Northdown Road, Bideford (Monument)
MDV505Related to: Sundial on Bridge Buildings, Bideford (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV2653 - Archaeological Watching Brief: Refurbishment of Bridge Buildings, Bideford
  • EDV4517 - Archaeological Appraisal of River Torridge Pipeline Routes, Bideford, Devon

Date Last Edited:Jul 11 2018 11:42AM