you walked or rode on horseback around the villages on the outskirts
of Halesworth, these monasteries would be the only large stone
buildings you would see, except for the possibility of a local church
or a castle in the distance. The roads themselves were appalling by
modern standards, with most looking more like the muddy footpaths we
see leading across fields or into woods or along hedgerows. In fact
the the footpaths we have today are often the ancient ways which
people used when going to work, to church or to the market.
roads were the 'King's Highway',
and land owners were supposed to maintain their surface and also to
clear the land each side of the road in order to deter robbers.
repairs were done by noblemen who frequently had to travel from one
of their residences to another, and they kept the main roads as
passable as they could. It was also seen to be a pious or social
duty, so in the later Middle Ages, it became common for people to
leave money in their wills for the improvement of local roads.
Spring of Lavenham, in Suffolk left no less than £200 for the upkeep
of the roads around that town. William Norton, who lived in the
Gothic House in Halesworth in the 16th century left forty shillings
(£2) in his will of 1542 to mend the roads from Halesworth to
Chediston, while his son Robert Norton who died in 1561, left twenty
shillings (£1) for repairs to the highway from Halesworth to