In 1555, Medieval ‘Pavage’ grants for the upkeep of roads were replaced by the Statute of Philip and Mary, which required parishes to maintain their local road network through six days annual labour, with Surveyors of the Highways appointed to verify compliance. In the Elizabethan period, faster light carriages began to replace lumbering wagons on the roads, but only in the vicinity of London, and their cost made them the preserve of the wealthy. On the major roads, stables of horses were maintained at 10-mile (16-km) intervals, enabling couriers and the well-heeled to remount and travel ‘post-haste’. However even inter-city roads were unpaved, and frequently became near impassable in winter and wet weather. For trade, the major navigable rivers like the Severn and Thames were preferred options, with inland ports such as Bridgnorth (shipping coal to the Bristol Channel) and Oxford (timber, wool and foodstuffs to London) becoming thriving centres.
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