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.