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The Newmarket, Bury and Cromer Road

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The Newmarket Road, measured from the General Post Office, is 132 miles in length, to its termination at Cromer. Its way out of London goes by Cheapside, Cornhill, Bishopsgate, and Shoreditch, turning to right at Shoreditch Church, along the Hackney Road to a fork of roads past Cambridge Heath, and thence to Mare Street, Hackney, and along the Lea Bridge Road. Coming to the Baker's Arms and Whipp's Cross, it emerges from the London area at Woodford. By Woodford Green and Woodford Wells, it comes to the woodlands of the spacious and historic Epping Forest at High Beech and the Wake Arms.

To-day, only at this point, fifteen miles from its beginning, can it be said that we are truly on the open road, but here, indeed, it is bordered by the forest primeval, and so continues to Epping. At Thornwood Common, two miles beyond that town, Epping Forest is left behind, but still the region is of a pleasantly forestal nature, through the hamlet of Potter Street to Harlow, where Hertfordshire is entered at the approach to Sawbridgeworth. As "Sapser" or "Sapsworth" some of the older rustics still pronounce this lengthy name. The village, like several in this region, long has been interested in the malt trade, and many picturesque evidences of this in the shape of queer old malt-houses remain.

Through Spelbrook and Thorley Street we come to Bishop's Stortford, or, rather, to Hockerill, the quaint old town lying just off the direct road to the left. At Hockerill the Red Lion and the Cock inns face one another. In the town itself there are many old houses. The church, of which the Rev. F. W. Rhodes was vicar, stands at the upper part of the town, on Windhill. That great man, Cecil Rhodes, founder of Rhodesia, a son of the vicar, was born at Bishop's Stortford in 1853. T h e house, Netteswell House, is a large and pretentious stuccoesque one, of a singularly uninteresting Early Victorian appearance. In three miles on from Hockerill is Stansted, a roadside development in olden road-faring times of the original village of Stansted Mountfitchet, on the right, where the railway station and the huge earthworks of a former castle of the Mountfitchets are incongruous neighbours. In another two miles we come to a pretty scene at Ugley. That Ugley should be, in fact, pretty, is not at first to be comprehended. It is only when signposts are consulted, some naming the place "Ugley" and others "Oakley," that we perceive the original name to be really the latter one. The oaks and the lea still bear witness to the propriety of the more pleasing name.

The next village, a larger place, Quendon, is equally pleasant, and leads on to the very lengthy street of Newport, an old-world village formerly a market town-Newport meaning not a seaport, but a " new market." Plaster-fronted and timbered houses form the greater part of Newport; among them the beautiful timbered and brick fifteenth-century "Monks' Barns." Here, too, is the " Crown House," said once to have been an inn of that name. It is dated 1692, but that is the date of a restoration. It is by tradition associated with Nell Gwynn. A route from London by way of Hoddesdon and Rye House comes in at Newport, and still is known as "London Lane." It is that by which Charles the Second often travelled to Newmarket.

The old Quaker town of Saffron Walden is seen off to the right of Audley End. "Walden," as originally it was, obtained the prefix "Saffron" from a local cultivation of the purple crocus, introduced from Asia Minor at the time of the Crusades. It yielded a bright yellow dye, and was also used medicinally. The cultivation died out about 1780. Audley End, the park and mansion belonging to Lord Braybrooke, was originally the seat of Lord Howard of Effingham. The mansion, although still large, is but a fragment of the former residence. We come now to the oddly named village, Wendens Ambo. This was once two ecclesiastical parishes-Great and Little Wenden. Little Wenden church was cleared away so long ago as 1662 and the parishes were united under this pedantic Latin title, which means "Both Wendens."

Passing Littlebury and Little Chesterford, we enter Cambridgeshire. When once beyond the next village, Great Chesterford, and the cross-roads at Stump Cross, the scenery undergoes a complete and dramatic change. The meadows are exchanged for weird downs that continue for many miles to and past Newmarket. At Pampisford are seen prehistoric tracks and sepulchral tumuli. Mag's Mount crested with a clump of trees, is such a relic of the Up the long incline of Six Mile Bottom, the road comes on to Newmarket Heath through a cutting m the Devil's Ditch. This prehistoric boundary, with deep ditch and an embankment overhanging some thirty feet in height, runs between Reach and Wood Ditton, a distance of seven miles.

Newmarket Heath has been a notable place for horse-racing since the time of James the First until the present day. Across it we come into Newmarket town. The place was "new" in 1227, when it arose in what then was a lonely situation owing to an outbreak of plague at Exning, two miles distant. The road runs along the broad street of the town, with the right hand being in Suffolk and the left in Cambridgeshire. It is a street of strange contrasts-the mansions of the wealthy and the titled and the headquarters of the Jockey Club alternating with business premises, cottages, and inns.

At one mile beyond Newmarket the road divides, going straight ahead for Thetford and Cromer, and branching to the right for Bury St. Edmunds and rejoining the direct road in 26 miles at Thetford.

The way to Bury, which it has now been customary to style, since the foundation of the new Bishopric, "St. Edmundsbury," is by Kentford, Higham railway station, Saxham White Horse, and Risby. Bury, ancient though it be, wears in general a late eighteenth-century appearance, due largely to the prosperity of agriculture in those times of Continental wars, when the price of corn ruled high. Bury then largely modernised itself. Then it was that the medieval Angel inn, on Angel Hill, looking upon the ruins of the great Norman Abbey, was rebuilt as we see it now. The Angel figures in the adventures of Mr. Pickwick. Louise de la Ramee, better known as "Ouida," was born at Bury in 1840. In the Market Place is Moyses' Hall, or "the Jew's House," dating back to Norman times.

From Bury the road goes through Fornham St. Mary to Ingham, Seven Hills, and Barnham, to its junction with the main route at Thetford.

Resuming, then, that direct way, we have twenty miles of heaths after passing the lovely mile-long elm avenue two miles out of Newmarket. At Barton Mills, in eight miles, the river Lark is crossed, and Elveden is reached in a further eight. Since the late Lord Iveagh purchased the Elveden estate the village has largely been rebuilt, and what was a place of the characteristic Suffolk style in building among these flinty heaths-cottages chiefly of black flint- has become a place of red brick. On the heath is a lofty War Memorial column.

Crossing the Little Ouse river, we enter at once Norfolk and the town of Thetford.

The story of Thetford goes back far into the era of unrecorded things, into the Stone Age. It stands upon the Icknield Way, and was a place of importance in Saxon times, and was the city of a bishop, and possessed a mint. It had twentv churches, and now has but three. The great Castle Hill, 100 feet high, which had never a castle on it, but is in part a prehistoric mount, is a relic of those times; S. Peter's church, by the old Bell inn, at the narrow entrance to the town, is a typical example of the traditional manner of building in these parts, of black knapped flint, and is known locally as "the black church."

Out at Thetford, crossing Roudham Heath, is seen by the wayside the lofty and solitary black poplar known as "Bridgeham High Tree," planted originally as a landmark for travellers in these wilds. Down to Larlingford and through Attleborough, we come to Wymondham, a small market town heralded by the uncanny looking towers of the great church, once a Benedictine Priory. In the centre of the town the beautiful sixteenth-century octagonal timbered Market House is an unusual feature. The industry of Wymondham is horsehair-weaving. By Hethersett, Cringleford, and Eaton the road enters Norwich, coming to a junction with the Norwich road through Colchester. Descending into that city by St. Stephen's Street and thence along Rampant Horse Street into the Market Place, we thread the way through it by Exchange Street and St. Andrew's Street; crossing the Wensum at Duke Street; leaving the city by Pitt Street and Augustine Street. A long rise leads to Horsham St. Faith and Newton St. Faith, beyond which is entered the beautiful wooded common of Stratton Strawless. The name of this place has nothing to do with Straw, or the lack of it. That name comes from Denmark, and was brought here by a very early settlement of Danes in this district, who came from Stroeden Strelev.

Through Hevingham, Marsham, and the small town of Aylsham, we proceed to Cromer, passing Ingworth, Erpingham, Hanworth Corner, Roughton, and Crossdale Street. The landscape approaching Cromer is of a bold and picturesque ruggedness, with large numbers of fir-trees, and has a very Scottish appearance. Cromer, the most fashionable seaside resort on the Norfolk coast, was formerly a fishing town, but has been almost completely rebuilt, with numbers of large hotels. The sandy cliffs are ever in danger of coast erosion. Out to sea lies the site of the former town of Shipden.

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Pictures for The Newmarket, Bury and Cromer Road

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