Stowupland's Footpaths and canseys

A map of Stowupland showing its footpaths

Our village Green and our surrounding fields are criss- crossed with many footpaths, and in the past there were many more.These would have been the tracks used by local people to get to work and visit friends and relatives. In the winter they must have been extremely muddy.

In the 20th century it has become the responsibility of the parish council to ensure these are safe thoroughfares.

B&W press cutting
Extract from a 1949 press article

For Telstar 374, Neil Langridge shared his research into ‘cansers’.  He explained Carnser, Caunsey, Cansey or Karnser  was described by A.O. D Claxton as the Suffolk Dialect name for a raised path or causeway, usually through marshy land.

In the parish account books he found examples of regular payments being made for maintaining some village causeways. In 1690 a Robert Page was paid 5 shillings and 6 pence for”mending the cansey in Saxham Street” and 5 shillings and 4 pence for ” repairing the cansey at Thorney Green.” There were also regular references to ‘the rayle cansey’. Although the location of this is unknown Neil adds it was presumably provided with a hand rail.

It should also be remembered that before 1937 Stowupland’s boundary was much nearer the River Gipping and so for many Stowuplanders even after Holy Trinity Church was built, the church in Stowmarket would still had been the nearest church. Neil queries whether the reference he found in the account book to ‘the church cansey’ could refer to the raised footway opposite Stowmarket church  in what is now Station Road and still known as The Karnser.

In the 1930s the parish council opted to use cinderdirt rather than  gravel to surface footpaths,

Across the green these  pedestrian ways have been hard landscaped as it has become increasingly necessary to provide safe walkways for pedestrians away from fast moving traffic.

They also provide an essential safe route for residents with limited mobility who can use mobility scooters and for parents pushing prams and pushchairs. However conflict arises between cyclists who also wish to use them to avoid fast moving traffic but can create their own hazards.

In 1963 the parish council decided to ask the County Council to signpost 3 footpaths that ran through the parish

  • one from the boundary of Stowmarket, from a point near Spoonman’s barn to Saxham Street
  • another from Preston Hill via the Green to the School (primary)
  • the third from the school to Creeting St Peter.