Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
Britain's modern road network is rather different from in Pepys' day, but can still be a good guide. The main differences come from the Enclosures, which created the modern agricultural landscape and set up many local roads, the emergence of the turnpikes (privately-funded toll roads), and the new motor roads of the 20th Century.
For Sam's recent trip to Cambridge, his outward route, via Ware, would have followed the general route of the current main road from London, but the placenames mentioned reveal that the current road sidesteps to the west for the last few miles, and Sam followed what is now a minor road.
Records show that some of these roads were once very wide. Partly this was because of the movement of livestock to London, food on the hoof for the teeming metropolis. It wasn't just the travellers going around muddy holes.
Coach trip using a restored coach etc: the records are not the norm. "...Johns' grooms reduced the time for the team change to an incredible 21.2 seconds,..... and in 1996 he drove the coach non-stop from the Guildhall in London to Norwich Cathedral in 21.5 hours, a distance of 139 miles....."http://www.swingletree.co.uk/coach.htm
from L&M CompanionThe journeys Pepys most commonly made were to Brampton. He used three routes, separately or in combination. The most easterly, via Epping and Bishop's Stortford, meant going through the muddy lanes of Epping Forest. His favourite route--and that recommended by John Ogilby, the comtemporary mapmaker--was via Enfield, Ware and Puckeridge, and was by a slight margin the most direct. It also had the advantage of running along comparatively high and dry ground north of Puckeridge. The third route was the most westerly--the Great North Road through Barnet, Hatfield and Baldock. By any of the three he was within reach of Cambridge....His average speed [on horseback] was about four miles an hour in summer, rather less in winter. By dint of an early start (and 4 a.m. was not unusual), and by riding hard, he could make Cambridge within the day.
The General Letter Office was located in Clock Lane, Dowgate until 1666.
The domestic mails, including those for Ireland and Scotland, left for their destinations on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Domestic mail arrived in London on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The mail for France, Spain and Italy left each Monday and Thursday; that for the Netherlands, Germany and Northern Europe each Monday and Friday, while there was a daily post to Kent and the Downs.
Arrivals of post from the continent were of the same number, although they were subject to the weather.
Routes used by the General Letter Office.
Inland mail went on the six great roads to Holyhead, Bristol, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Yarmouth and Dover.
(Summary from Intelligence and Espionage in the Reign of Charles II by Alan Marshall.)
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