Travel and Roads in England

Travel and Roads in England

Travel and Roads in England

Travel and Roads in England

Excerpt

Englishmen in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were bold and adventurous; a few risked the hazards of the sea and the dangers of land travel to visit strange places, but it would be a mistake to think that highways were thronged with such folk. The average Tudor and Stuart Englishman, though he might love spectacles, novelties, and new experiences, did not venture far from home. When he set forth upon the roads it was usually for some serious purpose. Since many roads were difficult when they were not actually dangerous, travel was hardly pleasurable and was not undertaken for its own sake. Furthermore, unnecessary travel was discouraged for most of the population, because the authorities felt that if folk stayed in their own appropriate niches and performed the work allotted to them by birth, civil disorder could be kept to a minimum. The nobility and gentry had greater latitude, but even they were not entirely exempt from government control; royal proclamations from time to time urged them to stay on their country estates instead of flocking to London, because the hospitality they offered to their less fortunate neighbors helped to solve the problem of rural poverty. Unfortunately, the attractions of city life and the court (to say nothing of the cost of the country hospitality expected of them) gave London a peculiar appeal.

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