chapter  17
18 Pages

TRAVELLING

IN the Middle Ages, as M. Jusserand has shown in his delightful book on English Wayfaring Life, many men were going to and fro on the highways and byways of this country. They did not travel merely for the sake of sightseeing-travelling was far too serious a matter to be a holiday pastime-but because circumstances impelled them to take journeys. Merchants and traders travelled in pursuit of their business; .they could not carry it on by telephone and telegraph, as we do now, and it was not always easy to find reliable messengers. One of Sir William Stonor's correspondents told him that he had two letters for him, but he could not find anyone to bring them except a woman of Henley, and as soon as she was on horseback in the street she was arrested. Great landowners (or their agents) were often obliged to go from one end of the land to the other, to look after their property, which was scattered over two or three or more counties. The numerous lawsuits in which people engaged in those litigious days entailed visits to the courts in London, and the belief that pilgrimages benefited both the body and the soul led many sufferers or penitents far from home.