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Julians Bridge  -  Wimborne

Wimborne certainly benefited form the arrival of the railways in 1847 - but it has been a thriving market town for many years since early medieval times and the crossing point here over the River Stour has had a bridge since before the current structure was built in 1636.  In the years since, the traffic along the route has changed from carts to carriages -  and now to cars and lorries and has consequently undergone several phases of widening throughout its history.  Currently, residents of the town are asking for an additional footbridge to be construvted alongside - which as necessary as that may be, should be carefully considered to retain the beautiful appearance of the structure - especially from the view upstream.

In his writings (1535-1543) John Leland; whilst undertaking a survey of church assets for Henry VIII, commented on the crossing - calling it Juliane bridge. It has had many other similar names -

none of which includes the recent addition of an apostrophe! As the bridge has not been associated with a Julian this seems to have been added with the advent of social media and a  misunderstanding that the name should have that unnecessary addition. Sadly even the Ordnance Survey maps have followed that trend in the 21st Century -  eroding the historical accuracy.

In those early years of the 19th century it seems that the County employed individuals on a bridge by bridge basis [to do repairs]; then in 1809 ‘Mr Dyson’ was appointed  surveyor. His name also appears on the foundation stone beneath  Canford Bridge on the road out of Wimborne heading towards Merley and Poole - and he is named there as Chief Engineer.

[This stone is beneath the bridge by the waterline so maybe check it out when next hiring a rowing boat or canoe from Dreamboats] .  He appears to have been dismissed at some stage, though when is not clear, and Dorset county seems to have reverted to its old practices  of employing people in an ad hoc way.

 (https://www.childokeford.org/hayward-bridges/ )

There is a reference to our bridge in research of repairs In 1821 …  This was associated with  repairs to Hayward Bridge at Child Okeford …  

[ Hayward Bridge - No apostrophe again ..  Was repaired by the Trustees of a Charity called Lady Hayward Charity consisting of the Rents and Profits of certain Lands and Tenements in the Adjoining Parishes ]    So it is likely the bridge in Wimborne was repaired by the same method - funds from wealthy local benefactors.

Thomas Woolfrey got £3 [£172] for repairing tools used at the bridge whilst Robert West was paid 18s 6d [£53] for “work done and performed and materials used in repairing the Wheelbarrows of and belonging to the County” together

 with another £91 [£5k] for erecting a post and railing fence.   

Some material remained after the building of the bridge and William Melmoth was paid a pound to take some of it to the Julian Bridge at Wimborne and two pounds to take the remainder to Kings Mill Bridge at Sturminster.  [White Mill Bridge?)

Finally £9 [£500] was paid to the Clerk of the Peace Thomas Fox “for respiting [sic] and discharging the Indictment of Hayward Bridge”.

So, to look at the list of names that the bridge has been known by there are :

 Juliane bridge 1535–43

(in the writings of John Leland (He was the representative for Henry VIII at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries)

Jelian bridge 1591

Gilian bridge 1593

Julian Bridge 1822

 Julien Bridge 1869

 & Julian Bridge

And just downstream of the bridge you can’t have failed to see a distinct small tree-covered Island - unless the river was exceptionally high, that is  -

This is known as  Julian Island and may be the reason we have a Julians Bridge at all.  

In the records of the Almshouses (only 400 metres away across what would then have just been watermeadows there is note of a witness - probably head of a wealthy local family;  Walter Julien.   He was a  witness in a deed concerning St Margaret 's Almshouses in Pamphill and given the earlier part of the text above - that bridges  were

maintained - and initially provided by wealthy families and only in the early 19th Century did local ‘councils’ become involved - only to revert after a short time to relying on the wealthy

benefactors again.  

Since Julians Bridge originated as a structure in the 1400s - you can see that John Leland crossed it in the early 1500s -  being rebuilt (& widened) in 1636 it is quite reasonable to relate the family name of Julien to the original provision of the bridge and its maintenance.


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