Delight at seeing an ancient hidden bridge in Arlesford

Travelling on the B3046 between Old Arlesford and New Alresford the road crosses a bridge you’d never know was there. It’s on a small stretch of road called The Soke that connects to Broad Street in Old Arlesford.

So what, you might reasonably say. To which I will say that this is, perhaps, the oldest bridge in Hampshire, and among such in England too, The bridge, known as The Soke Bridge, is a late 12th century stone single arched bridge, and is a scheduled ancient monument – see details in Historic England.

It was built around 1190 to span the overflow channel from Arlesford Pond leading into the River Arle. The gothic stone arch is 12th century. It’s parapet i1 17th century, and the brick arch is a later Victorian addition from when the road was widened in the 1800’s.

The bridge and pond were created by Godfrey de Lucy, Bishop of Winchester (1189-1204), as part of a scheme to make the River Itchen navigable from its source at Bramdean through Winchester and Southampton. Alresford Pond acted as a reservoir, in which the water of several local streams was collected to be channelled through the River Alre to the River Itchen.

The downstream face bridge, the Norman stone arch, is hidden and is only viewable from a private garden, and then on certain days in the year. We visited the bridge on a Heritage Open Day. Here are my photos of the bridge and a short video of it.

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