Swans on the River Brue

Hele Bridge

Bridge Name:   Hele Bridge
No.:   27
Location:   Helebridge SS 9330 2783
Build Date:   16th century - repaired c1624-1628.
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Hele Bridge, Dulverton across the River Exe is 16th century. It has three pointed arches and massive cutwaters on the upstream side. It was repaired c1624-1628. The Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 6 inch map also shows an 'aqueduct', presumably connected with Machine Cross Mill to the east. This bridge has been widened on the downstream side, but otherwise it is as described above. Ogilby, in 1675, includes the road from Hele Bridge to Dulverton in his Bridgwater-Barnstaple road. Hele Bridge is a road bridge over the River Exe. It is medieval in origin, was repaired in 1628 and 1866, and widened on the south side in 1892 by G.B. Fisher for Somerset County Council. It is built of random rubble local stone with rubble voussoirs and hit-and-miss coping to the parapet. The south side has squared, irregularly coursed local stone with blue glazed brick voussoirs and saddleback coping. It has a three arch span; 4-centred arches on the north side flanking pointed cutwaters with rubble tops, circular iron tie above apex of centre arch the earlier parapet seems to have extended to the top of the cutwaters and is visible in the south-west corner. South side, semi-circular headed arches, pointed cutwater between with parapet extended along the line of the cutwaters to form recesses similar to those found on medieval packhorse bridges. The soffits of the arches have been extended in brick on the south side and would appear to indicate two periods of building. This is an interesting example of how a medieval bridge has been adapted to modern needs. (7)1

Repaired 1628; repaired by Dulverton Highway Board, 1866; widened by SCC 1892 for 229 - G. B. Fisher contractor.2

Hele Bridge on the road to Dulverton, has three pointed arches and massive cut-waters on the upstream side. The other face has been widened by about 4 feet, the work having largely been carried out in blue brick. It appears that certain works were required during the 17th century, as it was reported at the sessions held in Wells in the year 1624, that the parish of Upton refused to pay for the repair of Heale Bridge beytween Dulverton and Brompton Regis. In 1628 the parish was orderd to pay one-third the cost of the repairs3

References:   1.Exmoor National Park HER - MSO8843
2. Somerset Roads - The Legacy of the Turnpikes - Western Somerset - J.B.Bentley & B.J.Murless
3. The Ancient Bridges of the South of England - Jervoise

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