||William Rufus levied a tax for building a
permanent stone bridge and in the reign of Henry II work commenced
under the direction of Peter de Colechurch. The bridge took
thirty-three years to build through the reigns of three monarchs.
Henry II, Richard-the-Lionheart, and John.
Also Bridge House Estates contributed to the construction. A
charity which can trace its origins back as early as 1097, donations
at the time were said to be given 'to God and the Bridge'. The
charity progressively built up large amounts of funds for which
careful accounts were kept and the books balanced every year.
|It had a road 20 feet wide and 300 yards
long and was supported by 20 arches, curving to a point in Gothic
style.This Bridge was completed in 1209 and lasted over 600
years. It had gatehouses, a drawbridge and the street houses
to provide rent for the upkeep of the bridge.
||Peter de Colechurch was chaplain of St Mary
Colechurch and as Thomas a Becket was baptised there, the Chapel
on the bridge was dedicated to the newly martyred saint. Peter
de Colechurch, who died in 1205, was buried in the crypt.
The Chapel had an upper floor off the street and a Crypt accessible
from the river level. Both levels were connected by a spiral
|People and merchants began building houses
and shops on the bridge and this continued in the years to come.
They projected far out on both sides of the bridge supported
by stout Timbers and were joined together across the roadway
making the street appear like a dark tunnel in places. Many
tradesmen brought their specialities to the bridge and it was
soon nearly completely covered with buildings.
| The present version of the song "London Bridge is Falling Down - My Fair Lady " though based on the old Norse saga, was composed in the 13th century when the unpopular Queen Eleanor was given the tolls from the bridge as a present from her husband, Henry III, in 1269. She was a prolific spender and put all the toll money to her own personal use instead of spending it on the bridge.
Needless to say, the bridge fell into serious disrepair. The old song then became reborn as one of angry sarcastic criticism against the Queen, "London Bridge is Falling down, my Fair Lady". The bridge finally returned to the control of the City of London in 1281, but that winter with heavy ice pushing against the bridge, the ill-maintained structure suffered severe damage with five arches collapsing into the water, and a temporary timber bridge had to be built for that part.