Boxford Parish Footpath's identified.

We are fortunate in Boxford Parish to have a good web of footpaths to offer us a variety of walking opportunities. This map enables you to plan your own walks and, if you spot a problem, allows you to locate the site in order to report to the Parish Council, the footpath warden or to Suffolk Council. For those of you planning longer walks it shows if the path continues into the neighbouring Parish with the appropriate Parish reference, if available. An OS Explorer 196 is invaluable for this and will guide you further afield. Reporting a problem is as simple as accessing the Suffolk Council site and clicking on the location of the problem and writing a brief description. You will also find out if it has already been reported.

I have called it a Footpath map rather than a Rights of Way Map as the numbering and depiction on the map does not make provision for Bridleways. B10 is, in part, a Bridleway but is not identified as such on the map available to me. On the map only two categories of rights of way are evident: footpaths and permissive paths, of which there is only one which is beside beside Stone Street. This map is solely intended as a guide for locating footpaths, and is not sufficiently accurate for any other purpose. Field boundaries have been removed and trees have obscured the course of the boundary, for instance and, in the case of Path B10 as it approaches the A1071, it appears to be outside the Parish.

Two interesting features on the map, for me, is that (as for so many other religious or secular designated areas) rivers provide a feature that often constitutes a boundary - we have The Box. Only two sections of road on our map are part of the Parish Boundary: Cox Hill and Assington Lane run briefly along it. A river, perhaps is an asset and a useful resource for parishioners, while a road, however vital to all, is an expensive liability and responsibility may not be willingly shared and even disputed. Finally, some stretches of the footpath network actually travel along the boundary, as in the section of the of the B10 above. No surprise, as the importance of Parish boundaries were often celebrated and reaffirmed in Medieval times by the annual 'Beating of the Bounds' and their course occasionally became permanent paths.

Just to show how complex even a country Parish Boundary can become you need to look no further than the 1837 Tithe Map for Boxford. This is my imprecise copy of a map depicted in Peter Northeast's Boxford Churchwarden's Accounts 1530-1561 accessible with Google books. The early Nineteenth Century, with ancient boundaries and rights of way together with newly created ones being brought into use through the implementation of the Enclosure Acts, must have been an interesting, frustrating and complicated time for all those involved from workers and walkers to landowners and tenants and even, as here, to the church authorities themselves.

I believe that all their contributions to the making of our landscape should not be forgotten. All we have to do is walk it.

Nicholas Bristow

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