With the establishment of turnpike roads between 1750-1773, road conditions began to improve gradually across parts of England. They were still dirt roads, however, and were vulnerable to myriad weather conditions, as well as the increasing numbers of travelers. When walking, it is quite easy to see how one’s hem could very easily testify to having been six inches deep in mud on the way. When riding, either on horseback or in some sort of equipage, it would be quickly apparent that a well-sprung vehicle was a sound investment and testament to good sense.
As road trip season is upon us in America, I give you a new phrase to describe the likely disappointing roads to be discovered (and endured) on your summer journeys.
Jumblegut Lane (noun)
A rough road or lane. From the Old English lane or lanu meaning “narrow hedged-in road,” with common Germanic, Middle Dutch, and Old Norse cognates.
In exchange for the toll, owners of turnpikes were supposed to maintain the roads. When they failed to hold up their end of the bargain, their roads were known as “Feather-bed Lane,” as in a rough or stony lane resulting from the turnpike owner feathering his own nest rather than his roads. Bon voyage!