Oxford Grandpont

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Bridge

There are no visible remains

NameOxford Grandpont
Alternative NamesFolly Bridge; South Bridge; Grauntpount; Friar Bacon's Bridge; New Gate
Historic CountryOxfordshire
Modern AuthorityOxfordshire
1974 AuthorityOxfordshire
Civil ParishOxford

Folly Bridge formed part of Grandpont, a great causeway crossing the river Thames on the south side of Oxford. The causeway may have been built in the Anglo-Saxon period, and rebuilt in the late 11th century. The bridge was known as South Bridge until the late 17th century when it became known as Folly Bridge. The bridge was usually called Folly Bridge thereafter.

The causeway contained more than 40 arches in the 16th century, and stretched along most of Abingdon Road; it was not continuous, however, but descended wherever there was no liability to flood. The arches were mostly round-headed, but some were pointed, and most of the stonework was concealed under the wider modern road. Folly Bridge crossed the main stream of the river on four narrow arches divided by heavy piers and cutwaters; a tower stood near its southern end beyond the third arch, while the fourth arch was until the 17th century a drawbridge. The arches were at an angle of about 45 degrees to the roadway, to allow for the direction of the stream. In the Middle Ages repairs were financed by a combination of pontage grants and private charity; bridge hermits, appointed from at least the 13th century, were entrusted with alms and were responsible for carrying out repairs. About 1360 the town bought property on the east side of the causeway for the bridge hermits: the Hermitage or Bridgewright's place stood opposite the wayside chapel of St. Nicholas, where alms for the bridge were collected. Hermits were appointed until the late 15th century. Renovations to the bridge were carried out c. 1530 at the expense of John Claymond, president of Corpus Christi College, and among other charitable gifts was one by Dr. Lloyd, presumably Griffith Lloyd, principal of Jesus College, who in 1584–5 shared with the city the cost of railing the bridge. (VCH)

Folly Bridge was built as part of Grandpont Causeway during the medieval period. It was then known as South Bridge

There were four arches with a tower just south of the third arch. This was demolished in 1779. During the 13th to 15th centuries repairs were funded from alms collected by the hermits of St Nicholas on the Abingdon Road. Later expenses of repairs and widening were shared with Berkshire In 1825 the bridge was rebuilt with three arches. A toll house was built in 1844 at the north end of the bridge, but ceased to operate in 1850. (Oxford Urban Archaeological Database 57)

A tower was built, probably in the 13th century, over Folly Bridge just south of the third arch. This was known as the New Gate and was apparently hexagonal with a round arch. The rooms above the arch became known as Friar Bacon's Study, since Roger Bacon is reputed to have studies there. The tower was demolished in 1779. (Oxford Urban Archaeological Database 58)

Gatehouse Comments

The whole of the bridge and a small part on the north bank of the Thames where the bridge lay were in Berkshire in the medieval period and until the C20.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP514055
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  • Dodd, Anne (ed), 2003, Oxford before the university: the late Saxon and Norman archaeology of the Thames crossing, the defences and the town (Oxford Archaeology: Thames Valley landscape monograph 17) (esp chap 4 by Julian Munby and David Wilkinson) p. 53-6, 67 (fig 3.2), 139
  • Hibbert, C. (ed), 1988, The Encyclopaedia of Oxford (London: Macmillan) p. 240
  • Hassall, T.G., 1979, 'Communications' in A Crossley (ed), A Victoria History of the County of Oxford Vol. 4, The City of Oxford (OUP for the Institute of Historical Research) p. 286-9 online transcription
  • Hurst, H., 1899, Oxford Topography: An Essay p. 14-15, 26 online copy
  • Dredge, J., 1897, Thames Bridges, from the Tower to the Source p. 186


  • Clark, A. (ed), 1889, 'Survey of the antiquities of the city of Oxford,' composed in 1661-6 by Anthony Wood. Vol. I: The city and suburbs (Oxford Historical Society 15) p. 421-2


  • Harrison, D., McKeague, P. and Watson, B., 2010, 'England's fortified medieval bridges and bridge chapels: a new survey' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 25 p. 45-51 online copy
  • < >Brian Durham et al., 1984, 'The Thames Crossing at Oxford: Archaeological Studies, 1979—82' Oxoniensia Vol. 49 p. 57-100 esp. 82-95 online copy < >
  • 1829 aug, The Gentleman's Magazine Vol. 146 p. 105 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1327-30) Vol. 1 p. 326 (pontage grant) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1913, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1367-70) Vol. 14 p. 240 (pontage grant) online copy
  • Salter, H.E. (ed), 1920, Munimenta Civitatis Oxonie (Oxford Historical Society 71) p. 177 online copy
  • Sharpe, R.R. (ed), 1889, Calendar of wills proved and enrolled in the Court of Husting, London: Part 1: 1258-1358 p. 460-1 online transcription


  • Bruce Watson, 2013 Sept, Gazetteer of fortified bridges (working list kindly shared with Gatehouse)