Ten shillings gives visitors right to flock to old bridge

Bideford Longbridge will play host to a centuries-old agreement next week.

A NORTH Devon town will witness a curious site next weekend as a flock of unusual visitors cross Bideford Bridge for the first time in centuries.

The Guild of Weavers, Fullers and Shearman from Tucker’s Hall in Exeter will be driving a dozen sheep across the bridge on June 30.

In 1583, the merchants of Tucker’s Hall contributed to the building of the bridge and paid an annual fee of 10 shillings to the Bideford Bridge Trust to exercise their right to move sheep across it.

Martin McGahey, the event organiser, said: “For years, we discussed the possibility of exercising the right to drive sheep across the bridge at our guild meetings, and it is fantastic that it is now about to happen.

“The occasion will highlight an important time in our history and I’m delighted that Devon Country Council, Bideford Town Council, The Bideford Trust and other agencies have come together to make this possible.”

The sheep, on loan from the BIG Sheep family attraction at Abbotsham, will be driven by guild members dressed in their finest regalia at 2pm towards East-the-Water.

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The road will be closed to ensure a safe crossing.

The event will tie in with Bideford Heritage Day, which takes place in the town on the same day. For a preview of what’s happening, turn to page 13 in this week’s North Devon Gazette.

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