In the UK, many terms are used for a road name including Street, Road, Lane, Close and Avenue.
Listed below are the terms for types of thoroughfares that are currently used in Meldreth. The origins of the terms are included where known.
This is used for cul de sacs, often in modern developments. Malton Lane was called Ball’s Close (or Lane) (Beatrice Clay). From the medieval period to the nineteenth century the term was also used for fields/land holdings e.g. Home Close off Fenny Lane which was owned by William Whitechurch at the time of enclosure. In Meldreth today, examples are Bell Close, Flambards Close and Railway Close.
A drive was a road that was usually private and winding, as opposed to being straight. Originally it would have been the entrance route for a large house, for instance Wimpole Hall. It was also used to refer to a route for moving animals. A reference in the manorial records is “a drive in Northfield” (next to Malton Lane). A modern Meldreth example is Woodlands Drive.
This term often indicates a cul de sac such as Chiswick End (this was originally the termination of a footpath from Melbourn to Meldreth). However, it can also indicate part of a thoroughfare or part of the village, e.g. North End in Meldreth. It is now no longer allowed as part of a street name in England (but is common in other parts of the UK).
This word originates from the Old English lane/lanu: a narrow hedged-in road and later medieval: a well-defined track e.g. Brewery Lane, Bury Lane and Fenny Lane in Meldreth. Manorial records mention Topklenyslane/Topkleyfslane, which was a lane leading from North End to Topcliffe Mill and Manor (now a private driveway).
This term is more recent, derived from the Old English to ride: rád which became rode or rade (“a mounted journey”) by the Middle Ages and now refers to any route for any vehicle, e.g. Howard Road. Examples of its use in the manorial records are “a road towards Le Frerys” and “an unlawful road being made at Hextonditch”. Examples in Meldreth include Kneesworth Road, Howard Road and Manor Road.
This comes from the Latin strata (initially, “paved”) and later strata via (“a way paved with stones”). Street was used by the Anglo-Saxons for all the roman roads (e.g. locally: Ashwell Street, Ermine Street). In the Middle Ages prepared roads were generally only found in towns and “street” became mainly used for these, e.g. High Street. A law of Henry I said that a town street had to be wide enough for two loaded carts to pass, or for 16 armed knights to ride abreast. A lane needed to be only wide enough for a cask of wine to be rolled along it with one man on each side. The only “street” in Meldreth is High Street.
This is an old name from the Middle English wey, deriving from the Latin veho (“I carry”), originating in Sanskrit vah (“carry,” “go,” or “move”) e.g. Mare Way, Icknield Way which are local ancient routes. The manorial records include: “a way to Kyggiston” (possibly Kingston) and another in Webbiszerd (which I have not been able to identify). In Meldreth, examples are Elin Way, Marys Way, West Way and Woolpack Way.
There are also some road names in Meldreth that have no suffix, for example Burtons, The Grange, Melrose, Oakrits and Westacre
Other Terms for Thoroughfares
This term refers to the way in which Roman roads were constructed, with a mound formed by earth from the side ditches thrown toward the centre, i.e. a high way. The first recorded example is from the early ninth century and at the time referred to a main road between two towns/cities and one that was under the special protection of the monarch as an essential communications link. This term is not used in Meldreth today, although the Topcliffe Manorial Records refer to “the King’s Highway”.
The Topcliffe Manorial Records also include the following terms:
Path: the path to Foulmer (Fowlmere)
Footway: the common footway (which was obstructed, preventing tenants from getting to the common). Nowadays a footway is the technical term for a pavement.
Track: a track on the common (made illegally by driving sheep back and forth).