Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 24, 2021
Webpage updated: June 12, 2021




Plym Bridge.
From a ppstcard.

At the time of the Norman Conquest the area we now know as Plymouth was surrounded on three sides by water.   To the south was the Sound, of course, but off that there were creeks at the Sourepool (now Millbay roughly), and at East Stonehouse, which stretched inland as far as the present Pennycomequick.  To the west was the Hamoaze and off it were creeks at Keyham, Weston Mill and Budshead.  And even over on the east, the river Plym had a creek at Laira Green and the river itself, which rises to the south of Princetown, ran as far inland as the present Plympton Castle.

A traveller to or from Plymouth could cross the river by the Ebb Ford, at Crabtree, but as its names implies it could only be crossed when it was low tide.  Until the 18th century the first crossing point was at the Plym Bridge, hence its name.  The Bridge has five semi-circular arches although its piers are believed to be from an earlier structure because, as Mr E Jervoise FSA AMInstCE, author of "Old Devon Bridges" put it: 'the springings of pointed arches can still be seen just above the water level'.  He also tells us that the span is 36 yards and the width between the parapets is 8 feet.  The Bridge was referred to in an agreement dated June 1238 recorded in the "Devon Feet of Fines".

Being an important river crossing, Plym Bridge once had a chapel.  Mr Jervoise states: 'The Papal Letters of September 1450 record that Pope Nicholas granted an Indult to the Prior of Plympton to "depute fit priests" to hear confessions and absolve "the great multitude of faithful from divers parts of the world" who resort to the "Chapel of Saint Mary the Virgin, Plymbrigge, on account of the many miracles which God has wrought therein"'.  Six years later further indulgences were granted by the Vicar General for both the Bridge and the Chapel.  It is difficult today to think of this very out-of-the way Bridge as being so important or so busy.

It is not known when the Chapel was removed.