The London Bridge of Stone

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    The London Bridge of Stone

    The Bridge of wood was succeeded by one of stone, begun about 1176, by Peter of Colechurch. This worthy ecclesiastic and architect was priest and chaplain of St. Mary Colechurch in the Poultry, and London Bridge seems to have been the favourite object of his care.

    He is said to have built the new bridge, which was erected in 1163, out of elm timber, and to have begun the stone bridge a little to the west of that structure in 1176. But he died in 1205, five years before the bridge was completed.

    King John was anxious for the completion of the Bridge, and in 1201, recommended to the Mayor and citizens for that purpose, Isenbert, master of the schools of Saintes who had built the bridges of Saintes and Rochelle.

    The sovereign granted that the profits of the edifices that Isenbert intended to erect on the bridge should be for ever applied to its repair; and the King exhorted the Mayor and citizens to receive Isenbert and his assistants courteously.

    Sidney Gibson remarks that "King John's desire for the completion of London Bridge, and his recommendation of Isenbert for that purpose during the lifetime of Peter of Colechurch, are facts little known to general readers."

    The remains of Peter of Colechurch were buried in the crypt of the chapel of St. Thomas of Canterbury, within a pier of the stone bridge, and in 1832, when the last of the bridge was removed, the bones of the architect Peter were found beneath the masonry of the chapel, as if to complete the eventful history of the ancient structure.

    Alderman Humphery purchased a portion of the stone and later sold it to Alderman Harmer, who employed it in building his seat, Ingress Abbey at Greenhithe in Kent.