The Bridge of Sighs is a covered bridge that was built in 1913-14 by Sir Thomas Jackson, to link the two Hertford College sites that sit either side of New College Lane. Although the bridge is said to be named after the Ponte dei Sospiri in Venice, it bears a striking resemblance to the Ponte di Rialto which spans the Grand Canal.
Hertford College started life as Hart Hall in 1284 and became Hertford College by Royal Charter in 1740. It has had a chequered history: it was blighted by having few endowments in its early days, and at one time was reduced to one student and one half-mad Fellow residing in a neglected building. It was rescued by banker TC Baring in 1874 and recovered its college status and financial health under the long rule of Henry Boyd (1877-1922). It was during this time that Sir Thomas Jackson (1835-1924) was commissioned to build a new chapel, hall and second quad for Hertford, plus a bridge to link the two parts of Hertford, known today as the Bridge of Sighs.
Today, visitors are drawn to Hertford by its association with ex-Hertford student Evelyn Waugh and his portrayal of the college in his book Brideshead Revisited and has 120 undergraduates,
100 postgraduates and 24 visiting students.