An Illustrated Social History

Walk 11.


This walk combined two ways of walking to and from Kettlebaston, beginning with the ‘high road’ alongside Wild Irish, and returning on the ‘low road’ via Wagger Farm. The stream variously known as Walsham‘s Brook and the Wagger ran nearby as we went along much of the return journey. This is the river that was also described on Ordnance Survey maps as the Brett, and it has been assumed that this is because it comes from Brettenham - with a hint that it signified Ancient Britons too, in Roman times.)

The walk started in what is now Cakebridge Lane. The name is without doubt a corruption of Cakebreads, as the fields up the lane have been called for many years, and this is a name well established as a surname. Others have argued the other way, that the bridge here was Cake Bridge - ‘cake’ from the same root as Caford - and the name of the fields is the corruption. (I greatly regret missing the opportunity, a number of months back, to photograph a lorry with the name of the firm Cakebread Robey Ltd on its side, standing right alongside the Cakebridge Lane sign).

In earlier days, though, this was all Mill Lane, leading up from the old miller’s house to the mill which stood below Highlands Farm.

What's in a name, indeed! So let us talk about words, and communication generally. In former time with all the barriers to personal contact imposed by the appalling roads, it was not easy to keep in touch with the centres of political and economic influence. The written word may well have been the prime means by which educated people made themselves aware of what was going on in he wider world. In the cities and towns, coffee houses gave people the chance to discuss matters of weighty as well as trivial significance - but in a remote village, this was not an option open a many.

Prologue - The Written Word in the early Eighteenth Century

There was a sharpness, even bitterness, in the work of several of the leading writers in this period, and of no one was this more true than of Alexander Pope. Handicapped by a deformed body and a spiteful way with words, as well as by his Roman Catholic identity - which barred him from a university education - he took out his anger and frustration on his literary contemporaries and a host of others.

At the same time, Pope was a superb craftsman with the written

word, and his stylish epigrams became common currency, for example “To err is human; to forgive, divine”; “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”; and “Hope springs eternal in the human breast”. He also displayed both penetrating criticism and gentle humour in his satirical pieces and parodies.

Satire was in fact the commonest theme of many writings of the time - poking fun at the pretensions and hypocrisy of fashionable society, savaging the rampant corruption of those in positions of power and influence.

Pope was also a friend of Jonathan Swift and other writers who supported Tory opposition to the war with France. Swift - born in Dublin and a Protestant clergyman - possessed a talent for prose writing to match Pope’s verses, as well as a contempt for those he criticised; and his satire was, in fact, so influential that his attacks were substantially instrumental in bringing about the sacking of England’s