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Click to see full size 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.
 
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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.
 
Click to see full size 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 staircase.
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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.


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