The Bridge of Sighs is a covered bridge that was built by Sir Thomas Jackson in 1913-14, to link 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 is more like the Ponte di Rialto which spans the Grand Canal in Venice.
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. Today Hertford has120 undergraduates, 100 postgraduates and 24 visiting students.
New College was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. The Black Death and subsequent decline in the University population had severely reduced the number of educated clergy in the parishes, and Wykeham’s foundation was intended to reverse that decline. New College was exceptional for its size, its teaching of undergraduates and number of Fellows, and its quadrangle design. Wykham also made provision for16 choristers to say Masses for the soul of the founder; the college is famed for its choir today.