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Bridgwater Heritage

Seals and Bridges

by Dr Peter Cattermole

Green Wax Seal of 1343 Sketch of Seal of Commonality
Seal of the Commonality
affixed to a Bridgwater deed of 1343
reference Somerset Record Office DD\S\WH/61 by permission pic P E Cattermole
Seal of the Commonality
Taken from Dilks T.B. Bridgwater Borough Archives 1200-1377, Somerset Record Society Vol 48 1933

The seal of the commonality

The seal of the community or commonality of Bridgwater (green wax) is attached to an undated (prob. early 13th. C.) mss Ordinance of the Burgesses [No. 10 in SRS 48; SRO D\B\bw/132]:
Ad amorem et caritatem inter nos nutriendum et lites et rancores reprimendum
For the nurture of love of and charity among us and for the prevention of quarrels and bickerings.

Dilks interprets this seal as "castle with portcullis and three towers"[No. 10 SRS 48] and "a triple tower with portcullis, surmounting a triple-arched bridge under which flows the river"[SRS 48 xiii]. The illustration above however shows four arches.

A fragment of the the seal of the community is attached to the Will of Gilbert Russel dated 20 September 1317 [No. 80 SRS 48].

Dilks considers that "the wooden bridge shown on the seal of the community is of course conventional" [SRS 48 lii]. He notes: "But the earliest bridge must have been of that material, and according to Leland's tradition the 'right ancient stronge and high bridge of stone of 3 arches' had been 'begon of William Bruer.' There we must leave it, for Trivet's building comes later" (1395).

What is the evidence for a 13/14th C. bridge?
Trivet's bridge is described in the deed of defeasance [No. 477 SRS 53] as la novel pont de Bruggewater, the new bridge.

That there was an old bridge preceeding it is suggested in several documents.
Examples of the Town Seals

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5 December 2008. P. Cattermole. All Content © Bridgwater Heritage Group, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, do not reproduce material without permission.

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