Whitefriars Bridge

An Autumnal Whitefriar’s Bridge

My River Wensum photo series begins with a tour of the bridges that cross it.

I started with Carrow Bridge because it is the closest to my apartment.

Traveling upstream on the Wensum towards the city, the next bridge in this series is the Novi Sad Friendship Bridge, followed by the Lady Julian Bridge, and finally the Foundry Bridge.

If you were travelling by boat into the city, you would see Pull’s Ferry and Norwich Cathedral to your left as you approached Bishop Bridge.

The next bend is around the bend next to Cow Tower, with the Cathedral to the left and apartments and offices to the right, where the Jarrold Bridge is located. 

From here we paddle up the river to Whitefriars Bridge

One day, as dusk sets in on a misty autumnal evening, I hope I will look up at Whitefriars Bridge and see the shadowy figure of a monk crossing it. I am sure it is perfectly possible as this bridge was built near the site of a 13th-century Carmelite monastery. With all the history Norwich has to offer, I am a little disappointed that, so far, I’ve only had one run-in with a ghost. And that wasn’t even a visible ghost. (See my Foundry Bridge post for more on that). 

Nowadays, the monastery site is occupied by St James’s Mill, a former Victorian yarn mill, which now houses Jarrold’s offices. 

St James Mill – once a Victorian Yarn Mill on the site of the former monastery

Whitefriars Bridge was originally known as St Martin’s Bridge, which was a wooden bridge. This bridge was washed away by a flood in the late 13th century and replaced by another timber bridge. Then, during Kett’s Rebellion in 1549, the bridge was destroyed upon the orders of the Earl of Warwick, who didn’t want the rebels crossing the Wensum. 

The bridge was rebuilt again in 1591 with stone, then taken down to widen the river, which was prone to flooding at this particular point. 

A.E. Collins, a city engineer, built Whitefriars Bridge as we know it today and it was opened in 1925. I’m not sure, but this could be the most replaced bridge in the city?

It is rumoured a tunnel runs from Whitefriars Bridge to the White Lion pub. That wouldn’t surprise me at all, as I am sure the monks liked a tipple… maybe I should leave a brandy (or mead?) out for them one of these dusky evenings and see if a ghost appears…

Whitefriar’s Bridge, Norwich

The next Bridge in the River Wensum Series will be Fye Bridge, where witches were once dunked…

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