Bridge ‘haunted by trapped demon’ has coat of arms restored thanks to trust
- Credit: Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust
A bridge on the Norfolk and Suffolk border, which is said to have a demon trapped inside it, has had its striking armorial plaque restored.
Grade II* listed Homersfield Bridge, which crosses the River Waveney just off the A1062 near the village of Homersfield, was restored by the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust in 1995.
And the trust has now restored and reinstalled the cast iron plaque which displays the coat-of-arms of the Adairs, the family which commissioned the bridge - believed to be the oldest reinforced concrete bridge in the country - in 1869.
Over the past 25 years the cast iron plaque, one of two on the bridge, had deteriorated and was in poor condition.
But the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust commissioned its restoration by London-based specialist contractor Rupert Harris and the plaque is not back in place.
The coat-of-arms incorporates the red hand of Ulster, reflecting the Irish history of the Adair family, who owned nearby Flixton Hall.
However, an alternative, but grisly, story is that the red hand relates to the historic murder of an ostler - a stableman employed to look after horses - who had worked for the Adairs.
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Before dying, the boy was said to have left a bloody handprint on the wall and it was held that the Adairs should not go without some form of reproach - hence the red hand was added to the crest as a penance to commemorate the wicked deed.
The bridge itself has a supernatural story attached to it.
Commissioned by Sir Robert Alexander Shafto Adair, the bridge replaced earlier wooden ones.
But it is supposed to be haunted by a demon, which must remain trapped inside the bridge for as long as the water keeps flowing.
Legend has it that if the water stops, it will be able to escape.
This theory was tested when, in the early 19th century during a repair on the bridge the flow of water reduced to a trickle and the demon – according to a road user - nearly escaped.
Onlookers reportedly saw bubbles rising from the water and heard the creaks and groans of the beast trying to release himself from his watery tomb.
But they then heard howling as the water flow increased and the creature’s imprisonment continued.