Meanwhile, the keeper of the castle prison, just up the hill, was lining his pockets by pulling planks out of the bridge and extorting ferry fees from travellers wanting to cross the Cam. For centuries, other townsfolk helped themselves to building materials in similar fashion.
The bridge was rebuilt in 1483, and by 1494 a house had been built on it. In the 16th century, women said to have too much to say for themselves – judged 'scolds' by the town's elite, all of whom were men – were plunged into the filthy river on a 'ducking stool' that hung from the centre of the bridge.
At last, in 1754, along came James Essex, builder and architect of this parish, to design and erect the stone bridge that preceded today's iron construction, at the enormous cost of £1,609.
One last thing: Essex was married to Elizabeth Thurlbourne, daughter of a Cambridge bookseller. Is it stretching credulity to wonder if she was an ancestor of Ron Thulbourn, licensee of the Rose & Crown in Teversham and a director of Cambridge United Football Club between 1950 and 1960?
This blog was corrected and updated on 6 July 2018.
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