Moor Green, like Roe Green, continues as a swathe of grassland with a handful of houses and farms dotted around it, several of them listed buidlings. There’s a moated manor set back from the green and nearby meadows and ancient woodland are a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
With tall grass, high skies and few people around, it’s atmospheric and has an old and isolated air. Ardeley and Wood End are the nearest villages. It’s a good starting place for walks in all directions. Ardeley is the nearest Google Maps gets to locating it.
Turning off the old Roman road of Back Lane just before it peters out at its eastern end, there’s a track up through the green of Cherry Green, the hamlet lying beyond this house. The green was uncut hayfield.
At the top of the track, a disused gatepost is adorned with an antique, roughly made horse shoe, an ancient symbol of luck as long as it a displayed this way up so the luck doesn’t drop out.
We walked down the old Roman road that is now Back Lane from the expansive grassland at Moor Green, passing through Wateringplace Green to Cherry Green (all of which will have their blogs some time soon). Then we headed towards the farm at Wakeley to look across the site of a medieval village of the same name towards the empty fields that still carry the name Berkesdon Green.
Just before a patch of land called Westmill Green is Button Snap. On the verge in front of the thatched, timber frame cottage lies a bust of Charles Lamb who lived there from 1812 to 1815 and gave it its name. The essayist, poet and antiquarian sold the house for £50.
Redcoats Green isn’t named as such on the current Ordnance Survey, simply marking it as Redcoats. But the 1896 map has the complete name and there’s a road sign with the full name there. The venerable British History Online (BHO) recognises it, as do estate agents (although with less than half a dozen houses, they aren’t often troubled by the hamlet). So, Redcoats Green it is.
James Lucas, the ‘hermit of Hertfordshire’ lived here and was once visited by Dickens. His house fell into decay around him and was pulled down after his death in 1874. But he is commemorated by the Hermit of Redcoats pub a few hundred yards down the road in Titmore Green, which was counting the days to liberation when we walked by.
Out of sight in a vast pit just to the north west of Redcoats Green lurks the Wymondley transforming station, starting point for the three pylon columns that file eastwards to Stevenage and far into the countryside beyond. In the shot below, old metalwork is dwarfed by new.
Roe Green near Buntingford is a favourite of mine. (There’s another that is now part of Hatfield.) I first stumbled across it on a walk along the ridge from Therfield to Clothall, emerging from the footpath across the fields from nearby Sandon and faced with an expanse of grassland. The edges of the green are dotted with antique houses and cottages and a few unobtrusive newbuilds. There’s an ancient moated farmstead set back from the green, a cricket club pavilion, and an imposing retired Congregationalist chapel. This is part of a local pattern – church in the village, chapels in hamlets. The Congregationalists were not the only non-conformists here. The Primitive Methodists preached on the green when weather permitted, until someone let them use a house and eventually they established a chapel too, though if it’s still there I haven’t spotted it.
It’s probably fair to say you have to make your own entertainment in Roe Green. That was more difficult during the pandemic lock down with the modest playground taped off and even nets practice ruled out.
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.
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?
That’s it. It’s where three country lanes meet and it’s not on Google Maps. While there’s not a lot to see when you get there on your way to Datchworth Green, Bull’s Green, Woolmer Green or Burnham Green – positively metropolitan by contrast – a glance at the Ordnance Survey shows Sedge Green to have been a classic Hertfordshire green with the open arms of the Y formed by the roads embracing the land that was probably once for common grazing. It’s not on Google Maps but from Bull’s Green follow Coltsfoot Lane to where it meets Whitehorse Lane.
Fishers Green is the first green I’ve blogged about that has been subsumed into the urban sprawl of Stevenage. There’s a large grassy space that may be an echo of the original green as it’s bordered by diverging footpaths that I’m guessing pre-date the roads that serve the housing estates. But there’s nothing of its rural past to see, unlike nearby Symonds Green (of which more another time).
The pandemic lock down threw a bucket of cold water over VE Day celebrations but there was a flurry of flag waving, flying and – as above – chalking. Politicians tried to invoke the war time spirit in the battle against the virus, a sorry effort by a sorry bunch. I can’t decide whether the proliferation of Union Jacks and flags of St George complemented, contrasted with, or contradicted the ethereal (pagan?) spirit of the invocations that appeared on trees around our towns and countryside as people looked for ways to cope with the impact of the disease.
Through lock down and crap weather, an elderly Chinese man maintained his exercise regime around the pavements and underpasses of Fishers Green.
Ley Green and its twin Cox Green sit in one of the valleys that strike through the North Hertfordshire Chilterns. A hamlet that once had a school though no church or even the non-conformist chapel found in many of the sparsely populated upland settlements. Although there is extensive beech and hornbeam woodland within a mile or two in any direction, only a few gnarled old trees suggest the hamlet was carved out of ancient forest.
I like this view, the path from Austage End and Sootfield Green running down to the valley bottom with Ley Green’s cottages tucked behind their young tree growth.
This triptych of a shed wall at a cottage in Ley Green or maybe Cox Green pleased me. The sheen of wood and its grains and knots fascinates.
Burn’s Green has a pub and a chapel and an agricultural goods dealer, plus a handful of older houses. But most of what there is of it is new build. Its bus shelter library refers to itself as Benington bus stop, so maybe it has an identity crisis.
The chapel was closed during the lock down. The original building went up in 1882, commemorating the expulsion of dissenting clergy from the Church of England two centuries earlier. It was rebuilt in 1933.