Blandford bridge, crossing the Stour

Blandford bridge in the early morning sun
Blandford bridge in the early morning sun

A moment. But in the still, sun-poured early morning it stretches out, flowing imperceptibly like the water under the bridge, beckoning towards the future and the past.

Blandford’s history is fundamentally tied to crossing the river. The name of the town derives from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Blaen-y-ford’ describing a fording point where the small freshwater fish, the blay or bleak, could be found.

By the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, at which point it is believed a small hamlet had been established here, the name has become Blaneford, and by 1288 the town was known as Cheping Blandford.

According to a finely detailed Dorset Life article ‘the first record of the existence of a bridge at Blandford is as pons de Blaneford, in 1268.’ Little more is known about the bridge for 400 years, partly due to the loss of early parish records in the great fire of Blandford in 1731 which destroyed much of the town.

However, in 1631 the records describe the bridge as being in need of repair, and references to work being carried out intermittently until in 1726 an order was passed to completely restore the bridge, forming the basis of the six arch bridge we see today –

and so often cross without a second thought until, in the stillness of a sun-drenched early spring morning …

Blandford bridge in early morning sun

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