Although roads were the responsibility of the parish or later the Turnpike Trusts, the 1530 Statute of Bridges required the county to maintain all bridges. Two surveyors were appointed to see that every decayed bridge was either repaired, or if necessary rebuilt. Because of this, bridges often survived better than the roads which crossed them. Fingle Bridge and Steps Bridge, both over the Teign, are two typical examples of old stone bridges in the parish. Crossing the River Teign their three arches are supported on foundations called “cutways” which helped to split the force of the water when in flood. These bridges are usually surmounted by a low stone parapet, often with projecting passing passes. Between them comes Clifford Bridge.
Fingle Bridge appeared on Donn’s 1765 map and then carried a main road from Drewsteignton to Moretonhampstead, but the road south of the bridge is no longer a county road. It may have been built around 1636 when money was raised to repair an earlier bridge there. The north arch was damaged and completely rebuilt in 1809.
Clifford Bridge is another very old bridge, and at one time provided an important route between Exeter and Chagford across the river; it was widened in 1821.
The first Steps Bridge was constructed in 1710, replacing the old stepping stones which are still visible in the weir dam. above Steps Bridge. Many accidents had occurred, and it was built as a result of “the loss of a man and a woman who were taken downstream and drowned together with their horses”. Financed partly by private subscription, “the miller at Dunsford donating £10”, it needed more repairs almost annually. In 1801 and 1803 the parapet was raised and the foundations repaired. By 1814 a new bridge was needed and at the Quarter Sessions magistrates allocated £2000 for “a new bridge with three arches”. Completion was delayed and money was withheld until 1816, since the contractors had deviated from the contract by building it 2 feet too low and on shallow foundations. The present Steps Bridge (see above) was the result; see the close-up picture of the date stone on Steps Bridge.
Another bridge in the parish, Wray Bridge, carried the road from Moreton to Bovey over the Wray Brook and had date stone marked 1819. It was replaced by a new bridge, slightly upstream, in 1982. The name of King’s Bridge appears on old maps as crossing the stream where Folly Lane joins the Bovey road.
Note: For an account of the records available on all the Teign bridges, see D.B.L. Thomas’s article in Trans Devon Assoc., vol. 129 (1997), pp145-83.