History of The Bridge and Shawford
The lovely, sleepy village of Shawford is situated just four miles south of England’s old capital – the cathedral city of Winchester.
In fact Shawford is actually two villages in one - Compton and Shawford. For the past one hundred years, it has been said: ‘Compton is the one with the church and Shawford is the one with the pub!’
That pub is, of course, The Bridge.
The parishes of Compton and Shawford are linked by Shawford Down, which runs alongside the River Itchen. However, the two parts of the parish are now separated by the motorway, with Compton on the west side and Shawford on the east.
It is thought that Shawford’s Navigation Canal was completed in 1729, which was a busy commercial highway with a wharf near Shawford Mill and a regular passage of loaded barges. However, with the coming of the railway, the canal became a peaceful, reed-bordered waterway.
In the early 1800s, life in Shawford revolved around three things: Its fields, its church, and the building of the Waterloo to Southampton railway. Shawford railway station, opposite The Bridge, opened in 1882. The landmark 33-arch Hockley Railway Viaduct, now fully restored, crosses the River Itchen and its water meadows just to the north, and provides an important link to the South Downs Way for cyclists and ramblers.
The South Downs Way is an historic 100 mile trail through the stunning chalk landscapes of the South Downs National Park from the ancient capital city of Winchester to the chalk cliffs of Eastbourne.
A tranquil riverside haven, The Bridge pub is situated beside the River Itchen, a beautiful chalk stream flowing down to the historic city of Winchester and passing through the Winnall Moors Nature Reserve and Winchester City Mill, continuing through Shawford and The Bridge on its way to Southampton.
The attractive location led BBC producers to choose The Bridge as the backdrop for much-loved comedy character Victor Meldrew’s death as the victim of a hit-and-run in the final episode of the long-running series ‘One Foot in the Grave’ in 2000. Richard Wilson, who played the grumpy Meldrew, told reporters that he felt Shawford was ‘the perfect place’ for Victor to end his days. Fans laid flowers outside the pub after the episode was screened.
The River Itchen is an ideal walkway for nature lovers and history lovers alike. It’s an official Site of Special Scientific Interest, supporting a range of protected species, including the water vole, otter and white-clawed crayfish, kingfishers, and rare butterflies and dragonflies.
In the summer, if you dine al fresco at The Bridge, not only can you enjoy delicious traditional pub food, including our freshly prepared seasonal specials and sumptuous Sunday roasts - if you watch very, very carefully, you may indeed spot one of these wonderful protected species!
You’ll find The Bridge just four miles from Winchester, on Shawford Road close to the M3 at Junction 11. Just key SO21 2BP into your satnav to find us.