The much-maligned rod, pole or perch of 5'6" (16·5ft) (320 to the mile) was originally equal to 15 of the old Northern feet or 5 Northern Yards. It was redefined in terms of the smaller standard yard as 5 and a half yards or sixteen and a half feet.
This Northern Yard based on this foot was rated at 1600 to the mile - as is the metre....
They are not exactly the same (the Northern Yard is longer, at 1·00584 metres,) but it would suggest that the Brits had a "metre" (divided into three feet) which was pushed aside when the standard yard replaced it.
An idea to play with.