Damask Green

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There are two Damask Greens in Hertfordshire. This one is now part of Weston, which lies high up on the chalk above Baldock. The other is part of Hemel Hempstead. An 1896 map shows Damask Green as wholly distinct from Weston and there’s still clear space between the two in the 1946 map. The name refers to Damascus. Why? Probably because it was held by the Knights Templar during the Crusades. They also controlled Baldock, which has a Templar church. Although Baldock is an ancient settlement, its current name too recalls medieval attempts to conquer the Middle East, deriving from Baghdad.

Damask Green proper lies behind the ridiculously large truck negotiating narrow lanes. The building is the Red Lion, closed for lock down (hopefully to re-open) when the picture was taken in June 2020. The Cricketers is at the other end of Damask Green. The green itself is now the cricket ground and a vast cow field on the other side of the lane.

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Rainbow paintings and flags appeared in houses and gardens and workplaces during the lock down. Painted pebbles and tokens, singly or in large collection, turned up on footpaths, and painted prayers were pinned to trees. As an incompetent government, the best of our scientists, and devoted health and care workers were swamped by a deadly tide, was folk memory returning people to an older trust signified by votive offerings?

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