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Blackfriars Bridge

A brief description.

There are in London two bridges with the name Blackfriars: The Blackfriars Railway Bridge and the Blackfriars Bridge in the Blackfriars Road.

The Dominican priory in London.

Between the mediaeval wall of London and the Fleet Ditchon was a priory of the Dominicans, - Blackfriars -, since 1276. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (1471-29.11.1530) negotiated with Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio (ca 1472-1539), papal nuncio, in this priory the divorce of Henry VIII and his wife Catherine of Aragon on 18 June 1529. When Pope Clement VII refused to approve the annulment of Henry's marriage to Catharine of Aragon, the English Parliament, at Henry's insistence, passed a series of acts that separated the English Church from the Roman hierarchy and made the English monarch the head of the English Church in 1534.
The priory of the Dominicans was closed in 1538 and used as repetition room of the children's theatrical company which played at the court.
 A part of the buildings, - the refectory -, was used by Richard Burbage (1567-9/13.3.1619) for theatrical performance of Shakespeare, Beaumont and Fletscher with the name Blackfriars Playhouse since 1605. The complex was pulled down in 1655.
London has many other objects in remembrance of the Dominicans: the Blackfriar Pub, Blackfriars Lane, Saint Ann Blackfriars (the cemetery of the priory), and a statue of a fat Dominican at the corner of Blackfriars Court.

The Blackfriars Bridge.

The Blackfriars Bridge, in the Blackfriars Road, is the second bridge, with a very elegant structure, built after a design of Mr. Robert Mylne.  There are nine arches, of which the center is a 100 feet wide. The whole length is 995 feet. The breadth of the carriageway is 28 feet, and that of the two foot-ways several 7 feet. Here each pier is a recess, over a beautiful Ionic pillars which support them. The building of the bridge begun in 1760 and was finished in 1768. The second bridge is built in 1869.

Sources: The Catholick Encyclopedia, Volume 15. Online edition by Kevin Night 2002.
           :: The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia 2000.


Blackfriars Bridge, City of London to Southwark,
first bridge 1769, second bridge 1869.
Painting by William Marlow (Guildhall Art Library/
Blackman Art Library.

Great Britain 2002, Mi 2046, Sc 2072.

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