POLITICAL HISTORY Roman road from London towards Kent by which Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims rode, and upon the transverse road along the North Downs to which the crowd of pilgrims going to Canterbury from Winchester and Southampton gave the name of the Pilgrims' Way. We have seen how de Montfort came by this road from the west to rescue Dover, and how the Etheling Alfred was intercepted upon it at Guildford, when journeying from the Kent coast to Winchester ; how the Norman army moved upon it and upon the Stone Street, and then upon it alone, in their ravage- marked advance from Kent and Southwark towards the west. On or near this line were several of the market towns of Surrey, and the county town, Farnham, Dorking, Reigate, Blechingley, Godstone and Guild- ford. On it or close to it were the four chief castles, Farnham, Guildford, Reigate, Blechingley, the latter three close to where cross roads cut the Pilgrims' Way. But the traffic was mainly peaceful. Besides the pilgrimages, the equivalent to tourist traffic in that age, the wool and woolfells of much of the south-west came this way to the Kentish ports, to be shipped to the staple fixed at Calais, or at the Flemish cities and Antwerp, where it was placed for a time. The annual fairs in the towns and villages, at Shalford and on St. Catherine's Hill, between which points the mediaeval road crossed the Wey, 1 were impor- tant centres of business for more than the neighbourhoods. The cloth of Guildford, the pottery of Farnham, the glass of Chiddingfold, employed at St. Stephen's, Westminster, in the fourteenth century, the fuller's earth of Nutfield and Godstone, the fire-stone for hearths of Merstham and the whole range of the Upper Greensand and the iron of the Weald would all there find their market. More and more was the traffic of Surrey directed east and west. It is clear that the roads through the forest from the Sussex ports were less and less frequented, and in parts disused entirely. After John's loss of Normandy, Shoreham ceased to be an important port of departure for France. The streams of war and of business between the Thames valley and the coast flowed rather upon either side of Surrey. The Cinque Ports on one side and Southampton on the other covered the accessible ways from the continent to London, and the Sussex forest, with Surrey behind it, lay as a scarcely penetrable screen between. No army traversed Surrey from north to south, nor the reverse way, after 1264. It seems doubtful if any sovereign went through it from north to south after Edward I. till Elizabeth did so in one of her progresses. The most important product of the Sussex Weald, iron, seems to have gone down to the coast, much of it by the Ouse and Rother, and to have reached London by sea, not through Surrey. From the Surrey Weald firewood and ' coals,' that is charcoal, went to Kingston and London. Perhaps iron did also, though we do not hear of it till 1553, 1 From Farnham to the Mole the course of the Pilgrims' Way appears to have been double. The old British trackway ran along the top of the chalk downs, and crossed the Wey at Guildford. The medieval road ran on the sand hills south of the downs, past Puttenham, Compton, Shalford, Albury and Shiere. 355
Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/425
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