wapentake bridge

1) The ‘wapentakes’ were formerly the subdivisions of the three Yorkshire Ridings, districts which were equivalent to the ‘hundreds’ in most parts of England. The word is of Old Norse origin and it reflects Danish influence in the county in the centuries before the Norman Conquest. Wapentake bridges were therefore bridges maintained at the expense of the Wapentake and not the Riding. The status of a bridge could change, for various reasons, and local interests could influence that.

A case at the General Quarter Sessions at Pontefract, in 1647-8, serves as an illustration fairly typical: Huddersfield Bridge was through the violence of water decayed and quyte taken away and a sum of Ł30 was estreated upon the West Riding towards its repair, and paid over to Sir John Ramsden, not only a Justice of Peace but also the local lord of the manor. A dispute took place over the Ł30 after the repairs had been carried out and the magistrates resolved the matter in the following order: And whereas it do appear that the Bridge is a Wappentake Bridge and ought to bee repaired at the Countryes Charge, yet in respect of the said order and that the said work is finished, it is now ordered that the said order be confirmed and that the Ł30 be estreated on the whole West Riding and paid to the hands of those that disbursed the moneys to disengage them, provided that these moneys … shalbe as a benevolence onely and not to bynd the said Ryding to repaire the bridge hereafter.

places Pontefract
dates 1647-1648

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Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0