Monday, October 16, 2023

Like an (Armorial) Bridge Over (Historically) Troubled Waters

The Lendal Bridge in York, England, is a Victorian cast iron bridge of a single (175 foot long) span over the River Ouse, which runs through the City. It opened on January 8, 1863, and replaced the Lendal Ferry there.

Being Victorian, and being of cast iron, there is a fair amount of heraldic decoration on the bridge.

In addition to the arms of the See of York (the red shield on the right spandrel of the bridge in the photograph above) and the arms of the City of York, there is also a lot of heraldry on the bridge itself:

Running the length of the bridge are repetitions of two shields and a badge, facing both the interior and the exterior of the bridge.

The first is the arms of England, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or:

The second is the arms of the See of York, Gules two keys in saltire wards upwards argent in chief a Royal crown or:

And the badge is the white rose of York, A rose argent barbed and seeded proper:

In the center of the span, just above the arms of St. George (Argent a cross gules) that you can see in the first picture if you click on it to go to a larger copy), are two lamp standards, each of which consists of two lamps, a cypher in gold of the letters V and A (for Victoria and Albert), and surmounted by an angel holding the arms of St. George:

Here is a close-up of the angel (in white, with a blue robe and golden wings) holding the shield of St. George (Argent a cross gules), the patron saint of England.

All in all, a great display of heraldry on what is really just a utilitarian object: a bridge over a river. But it still looks good, doesn't it?*

* For some reason, I am reminded of the line that Yoda says to Luke in Star Wars, Episode 5, here slightly modified: "Look so good in 160 years you will not, hmm?"

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