Finding evidence of a lost 18th-century bridge

Finding evidence of a lost 18th-century bridge

Feature

The Five-Arched Bridge

Site

Painshill Park, Surrey

Issue

There was a need to find information about a lost bridge at the west end of the lake at Painshill Park, so that plans could be made to re-create it as part of the restoration of the designed landscape.

Background

Photograph of the west end of the lake, Painshill Park, by Fred Holmes, November 2005. Copyright: Fred Holmes.Photograph of the west end of the lake, Painshill Park, by Fred Holmes, November 2005. Copyright: Fred Holmes.A five-arched bridge at the west end of the lake connected the north and south sides of the lake in Charles Hamilton 's time. It had been replaced with an earthen causeway, and the bridge had disappeared.

Archaeological investigation and evidence found

The bridge is known to have been in place until the first part of the 19th century, because it is shown in an engraving by George Frederick Prosser of 1828.

During a dry spell, when the water levels in the lake receded, archaeologists found a number of substantial timbers on the lake bed and were able to establish where the timber-framed bridge had stood. The timbers were dated to about 1720, and showed that the bridge had not fallen down but had been dismantled.

Like many of the other garden features, it was built of wood and rendered to look like stone. The intention now (2008), however, is to re-create the bridge in real stone, for longevity and ease of maintenance.