Sham Bridge, Carshalton House Estate

Within the grounds of Carshalton House, in the London Borough of Sutton, lies an extraordinary collection of mid 18th century creations originally built within the landscaped pleasure gardens of the Carshalton House estate. They include some beautiful examples of eccentric English follies - amongst them the Sham Bridge.

It isn't actually a bridge because, despite appearances, water doesn't flow through its arches: It is a dam which was built into the north end of the lake bed. This old and unusual stone and flint structure had become overgrown and damaged by the surrounding vegetation and was in dire need of some specialist restoration work.

The Sham Bridge, along with the historic Carshalton Water Tower - a unique grade II listed building that originally supplied water to Carshalton House, is now under the care of The Carshalton Water Tower and Historic Garden Trust. In 2010, after the Trust approached Viridor Credits for funding to repair and restore the Sham Bridge, it received £20,000.

Once the vegetation had been removed, and the existing structure stabilised, the arches were restored and the walls painted a matt black to re-establish the illusion of depth. As a final touch, safety railings were installed so visitors can now enjoy the refurbished 18th century vista across the lake area. The restoration work took a month to complete.

Jean Knight, from the Carshalton Water Tower and Historic Garden Trust, led the project: "The Sham Bridge is a really unusual feature on the estate. It's wonderful to have it back in such pristine shape. All our visitors will now be able to enjoy the illusion of a bridge by the lake, as well as the beautiful view of the garden from the top of the Sham Bridge."

 

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