Bridge that inspired creation of Winnie the Pooh heads to auction

The bridge on which A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin, created the game of Poohsticks, which in turn inspired Milne to write the Winnie the Pooh books, will go to auction October 5.

The bridge on which A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin, created the game of Poohsticks, which in turn inspired Milne to write the Winnie the Pooh books, will go to auction October 5.

BILLINGSHURST, UK – The “Poohsticks” bridge from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books will be auctioned on Tuesday, October 5 in West Sussex, England. The iconic bridge, forever associated with the classic children’s books and E.H. Shepard’s illustrations, was built around 1907 in Ashdown Forest, an ancient area of tranquil open heathland some 30 miles south of London. A replacement was built in 1999, but the original bridge is now fully restored and will be offered with an estimate of £40,000-£60,000 (US$54,200-$81,300). According to Summers Place, the auction house organizing the sale, the auction presents “a unique opportunity to buy a piece of literary history in the year Pooh Bear celebrates his 100th birthday – [Pooh} was given to Christopher Robin Milne on his first birthday in 1921.”

Constructed as a sturdy river crossing for horses and carts as well as pedestrians in the forest and originally known as Posingford Bridge, it rose to fame when A.A. Milne was inspired by his son Christopher Robin playing on it as a child, and in the 1920’s, they invented the game of Poohsticks. It led to several books about Pooh, mentioning the bridge.

The first mention is in The House at Pooh Corner, in which Pooh accidentally drops a pine cone into a river from a bridge and, after watching how it appeared on the other side of the bridge, devises the rules for Poohsticks. It subsequently appeared in later books being played by the other main characters, Christopher Robin, Eeyore and Tigger, and was immortalized in E.H. Shepard’s illustrations.

This original bridge, made of carved oak, has been restored and reconstructed in subsequent years, replicating Shepard’s original illustrations. It was reopened by Christopher Robin Milne and officially renamed by him as Poohsticks Bridge in 1979.

By 1999, the bridge had endured the wear and tear of countless thousands of visitors, and so was replaced with a new bridge built with considerable financial assistance from local groups and the Disney Corporation. The original was dismantled and stored for many years in the Ashdown Forest Centre until recently, when local Parish council gave permission for it to be rescued.

It has now been fully restored and reconstructed using local oak for any missing elements with each piece numbered, together with drawings and an analysis, prepared by the council on original and/or replaced elements. It is now being offered in situ in East Sussex, where viewing is strictly by appointment.

Click to learn more about the auction.

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