Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

The two ‘Wimleys’ on Robert Norden’s map of 1637

The communities of Great and Little Wymondley lie between Hitchin and Stevenage. They were once separate parishes, each with detached portions in the south, which probably means that they were one single estate at some point. They have a rich archaeological heritage, which tells us some surprising things about what may have led to the creation of the two villages.

The account linked below tries to paint a picture of how the place developed up to the Norman Conquest in 1066. After that, the story is best followed in Noël Farris’s 1989 book The Wymondleys, although we will look at the churches, Wymondley Castle, Little Wymondley Priory and Purwell.

Read the longer account here.

Bygrave is a village that lies between Baldock and Ashwell. Today, it is remote from traffic, which passes along the A505 to the south and the A507 to the west. This is partly a result of Victorian history, when the railway cut off its connections to the south and east in the 1840s. In the Middle Ages, it was home to a market and its fair continued until the 1880s or 90s. The village has mysterious earthworks; a deserted hamlet; an Iron Age and Roman landscape can be reconstructed in the western half of the parish; the remains of a woolly mammoth from the south-western corner are now on display in North Hertfordshire Museum.

Read more about its history here.

A beaker, probably hand made at Much Hadham, typical of pots made after 400

Two years ago, I put together a small exhibition for Baldock Museum on Roman Baldock. It meant not only choosing a selection of interesting objects not on display in North Hertfordshire Museum but also writing the text for panels on the wall. I wrote enough to put into a leaflet, which I intended to make available at the Museum. As well as telling the story of the ancient town and its people, it contained a brief catalogue of the artefacts in the cases. It so happened that the exhibition coincided with a major programme of work on Baldock Town Hall, which meant that the Museum was closed for a long stretch during the year it was supposed to be on open.

Now that North Hertfordshire Museum is also temporarily closed, it seems a good idea to make the leaflet available for people to read. It explains how the ancient settlement has been revealed over the past hundred years. Beginning with remote prehistory, it looks at why the settlement came to grow up in the hollow between the hills of North Hertfordshire. The main part of the leaflet talks about the development and decline of the Roman town, looking especially at its people and their beliefs. The catalogue gives further insights into the history of Baldock. There are 22 A5 pages in all.

Download a copy here.

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