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A Great Day At The Office

Feb 12

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12 February 2014 16:05  RssIcon

Paul from our Penrith Office has had the enviable job of working on one of the Lake District’s most iconic buildings, Bridge House of Ambleside.  We can’t really imagine a more picturesque place to spend your 9-5.  So here are some interesting facts you may not know about the incredibly quaint cottage:

Bridge House has spanned the Stock Beck since the 17th century. Originally formed as a bridge alone, it connected the site of Ambleside Hall, the home of the Braithwaite family, which once stood on the hill above the beck, with orchards and pastures on the left bank.

It was built into its present two-storey form and used an apple store in the early 18th century; there was a door at both ends so that the house could still be used as a covered bridge and as a summer house.

Later in the 18th century when there were two water driven mills alongside the beck it may have been used as a counting house, as attested by the holes on the internal window cills and lintels where iron bars were once located.

In 1815 the rear door was closed up and a range installed with a flue inserted over the door location; the door lintel and reveals still remain embedded in the fabric. A sketch of the property by William Green ‘Etched from Nature’ and published May 1st 1821 shows the building at this time. It became a tea room for some years but by 1843 when the new Rydal Road was built alongside, it was lived in by ‘Chairy’ Rigg, his wife and six children. In 1905 a cobbler was mending shoes downstairs and keeping his pigeons upstairs.

This unique building was being used as an antiques shop and gift shop in 1926 when it was bought by local subscription for £450 and donated to the National Trust for permanent preservation. 1956 saw the Trust opening bridge House for the first time as its very first Information and Recruiting Centre in the country – a use which continues to this day. Painted by John Ruskin and M W Turner, this property is reputed to be the most photographed building in the Lake District.

The property can be considered as being highly significant in terms of its historical and cultural importance in portraying the industrial and social changes of Ambleside from the 17th century onwards. Aesthetically, it represents a good surviving example of vernacular building techniques and architectural form.

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