The earliest crossing
at Harrold was a ford, which connected an ancient (possibly prehistoric)
route from Pavenham and the old village of Chellington, to that which
ran northwards towards Irchester. The ancient road through Chellington
was superseded by the present one which passes between the parishes
of Carlton and Chellington.
A bridge is first mentioned in documents dating
from 1136-46, which refer to "three acres of my lord's meadow next
to the place of Harewold bridge". It improved communications between
Bedford and Northampton, with a significant effect on the road system
and nearby settlements.
Harrold Bridge has several distinctive sections:
six arches over the river, then on the south bank a short causeway,
and a further nine flood arches across the flood plain.
The foot causeway runs parallel with the road.
Historically, various individuals and bodies were responsible for
the maintenance of different parts of the bridge, which resulted
in different structures over the years, and of a variety of styles.
In about 1630 responsibilities for maintenance were defined as "four
high Arches, the first Sir Richard Chetwood, the second the Earl
of Kent, the third and fourth the Lord Mordaunt. The one and thirty
arches of the Long Bridge the County repairs". The individuals were
lords of the adjacent manors of Odell, Harrold, Carlton and Chellington,
and they were responsible for the first four arches from the Harrold
The remaining parts of Harrold Bridge, previously
in private hands, were taken over by the County in 1930, and major
structural repairs to the bridge and causeway were carried out by
Bedfordshire County Council between 1986 and 1992.