Friday Bridge

Friday Bridge and Coldham were once included in the parish of Elm. The former village occupies a junction overlooked by a memorial clock tower of its war heroes. Elm and Friday Bridge have ancient administrative connections, share the same road and in ancient times the same waterway, Elm Leam. The community possess two other towers one attached to the Anglican church, a Victorian edifice. The church has slipped a bit, the tower said to have been built upon a filled-in dyke and it leans towards Elm. Leaning towers are not uncommon in the Fens.

Is Friday Bridge famous for anything? Well, yes, but few people realise it. The other tower built of brick is massive and very high. One of the oldest in the Fens it was built to store water for the area. The tower was made famous in that its height was advantageous for relaying the Monarch's speech from Sandringham on Christmas day. The speech was relayed directly from Sandringham about 22 miles away to the lofty mast on top of Friday Bridge water tower, thence to BBC London and from there the King's or Queen's message went out all over the world.

As a place name Friday Bridge is an enigma. One thing about the name is certain. Long ago a bridge spanned the Leam. The name smacks of antiquity and may well have originated in Anglo-Saxon times. Other places-names include "Friday" which is of Norse or Danish origin. In Yorkshire, Friday relates to "Frea" signifying a leader. In Norse mythology people venerated a god called "Fryer". Friday Bridge might well have derived "Fricge", reputedly the wife of Woden and mother of Thor which related to Thursday. So anciently Friday Bridge seems to have been associated with a heathen settlement. The Dames were not generally attracted to the malarial Fens, but this may be an exception. Friday Bridge was conveniently placed for Danish longships sailing into the Wash and may have been convenient for sacking Fen abbeys. Outwell had a Friday Lode and a Friday Lake draining into Elm Leam. The bridge at Friday Bridge was anciently called "bicg" (a way) so we can reasonably assume that the old name may have been Frea's Bricg and the modern name shhpes itself from Fryday Brigge as it was called in the reign of Edward III.

There are no houses of great antiquity at Friday Bridge but as is normal in most places several modern residences have been built and the two villages - Elm and Fridaybridge - have converged.

Written by Trevor Bevis

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