PACKS OF WOOL THE FOUNDATION OF THE BRIDGE OF WADEBRIDGE
LOVEBONE was the vicar of Wadebridge, and there was a ferry across the river. It was a frequent custom for the farmers to ride their horses and to drive their cattle across when the tide was low, and frequently men and beasts were lost in the quicksands formed on the rising of the tide. A sad accident of this kind happened, and Lovebone resolved on building a bridge; as Leland says in his " Itinerary," "Then one Lovebone, vicar of Wadebridge, moved with pitie, began the bridge, and with great paine and studie, good people putting their help thereto, finished it with xvii fair and great uniform arches of stone."
Great was the labour, and frequent the disappointment. Pier after pier were built, and then they were lost in the sands. A "fair structure" was visible at night, in the morning there was no trace of the work of the masons. Lovebone almost despaired of success, indeed he was about to abandon the work, when he dreamed that an angel came with a flock of sheep, that he sheared them, let the wool fall into the water, and speedily built the bridge upon the wool.
Lovebone awoke with a new idea. He gathered from the farmers around, all the wool they would give him, he put it loosely into packs, placed these thickly upon the sand, and built his piers. The work remains to this day in proof of the engineering skill of the suggesting angel. [a]
Quoting Beaumont and Fletcher's "Knight of the Burning Pestle," we find the Citizen saying to the Prologue:
"Why could you not be content as well as others, with the Legend of Whittington? or the Life and Death of Sir Thomas Gresham, with the building of the Royal Exchange? or the Story of Queen Eleanor, with the rearing of London Bridge upon woolsacks?"
[a] see Keightons "Tales and Popular Fictions," p. 247