Chester Dee Bridge

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Bridge

There are masonry footings remains

NameChester Dee Bridge
Alternative NamesHandbridge
Historic CountryCheshire
Modern AuthorityCheshire
1974 AuthorityCheshire
Civil ParishChester

Road bridge over River Dee. Late C14, altered 1826. Red sandstone. 7 arches, from north to south: a pair of segmental arches north of diagonal weir; serving leat to former Mills of Dee then by hydro-electric power station; cutwater at weir, then plain abutment to first, parabolic, river arch; cutwater; pointed arch with moulded arris; cutwater; narrower arch with moulded arris; cutwater; broad segmental arch with moulded arris; bottom stage forming rectangular projection upstream for former gate-tower; large cutwater; narrow segmental arch probably in place of former drawbridge. The bridge was widened, upstream, in 1826, to provide a footway, partly corbelled. The present bridge replaced earlier medieval bridges, probably of timber, and is believed to stand on the site of a Roman bridge. (Listed Building Report)

The Old Dee Bridge was originally the only crossing over the Dee at Chester. The present bridge is thought to have been built from 1387. It comprises seven masonry arches of varying size. There was a gatehouse on the southernmost pier possibly with a drawbridge. The southernmost arch was rebuilt in 1499-1500 perhaps replacing the drawbridge. The gatehouse was demolished in 1781.

Trial pits were excavated over the crowns of arches 3 to 7 revealing an interesting variation in deposits under the base of the modern carriageway. In arch 5, there was a substantial surface of river cobbles. It is tempting to consider this cobble surface as the original medieval road over the bridge. It is curious that whatever its date and even though it is the central arch, this surface must have lain lower than the roadway over the adjacent arches. (Med. Arch

2000)

25th July 11 Richard II 1387

Letters Patent by the King granting his profits from the Passage of the River Dee and the Murage, formerly granted for the City walls, to be received for the repair of the ruined bridge over the river.

Given at Chester Castle.

Appended is the seal of the King's Chester Exchequer.

Footnote:

Murage was a toll granted by the Earls of Chester to be levied on certain goods entering the city to be used for the repair of the walls and streets (City of Chester Charters ZCH/20)

5th March 8 Henry IV 1407

Letters Patent by Henry, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, granting the expenditure of the Murage to be received for the next five years to be spent one half on the walls and one half on the completion of the tower on the Dee Bridge which was begun in the time of Richard II.

Given at Chester.

Fragment of the Prince's seal of the Chester Exchequer remains attached, Cast of reverse (City of Chester Charters ZCH/25)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ407657
Latitude53.185230255127
Longitude-2.88843989372253
Eastings340700
Northings365760
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved
Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Ward, Simon, 2009, Chester: A History (Chichester: Phillimore) p. 56
  • Langtree, Stephen and Comyns, Alan (eds), 2001, 2000 Years of Building: Chester's Architectural Legacy (Chester: Chester Civic Trust) p. 84-5
  • Boughton, P., 1997, Picturesque Chester: the City in art (Chichester: Pillimore) figs 1 and 2 (on old pictures)
  • Chester, B., 1979, Bartholomew City Guides: Chester (Edinburgh) p. 136
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Edward Hubbard, 1971, Buildings of England: Cheshire (Harmondsworth) p. 157-8
  • Simpson, Frank, 1910, The Walls of Chester p. 63
  • Morris, R.H., 1894, Chester in the Plantagenet and Tudor Reigns p. 230-1 online copy

Antiquarian

  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy

Journals

  • 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
  • 2000, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1999' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 44 p. 256 online copy
  • Stewart-Brown, R., 1933, 'The Old Dee Bridge' Journal of the Chester and North Wales Architectural Archaeological and Historic Society Vol. 30.2 p. 64-78

Primary Sources

Other

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