History of Baldock: The Knights Templar

The medieval “new town” of Baldock was established sometime between 1138 and 1148 by the Knights Templar who were given an area carved out of the manor of Weston. They probably planned and laid out the four main streets with a wider area in two of them to act as a market place. It is likely that they actively encouraged merchants to settle here but left a bailiff in charge to collect rents and enforce law and order as the Knights were concerned with the town mainly as a money-making enterprise to finance their crusades to the Holy Land.

The area surrounding Baldock was cleared and probably cultivated using the strip system typical of that time although some would have been maintained as pasture. Each householder probably had a long thin plot in the town that ran back from the main street to the Back Lanes (now the Twitchell, the Tene, Park Street, Pond Lane, Meeting House Lane and Football Close). This pattern can still be seen today on any map of Baldock although many plots have been amalgamated or divided as the fortunes of their owners waxed and waned. In addition, each householder would have held land in the open fields of Baldock for the cultivation of crops and probably also land in those parts of the surrounding parishes of Bygrave, Clothall, Weston, Willian and Norton where they abutted Baldock.

A few medieval buildings remain in Baldock though most are hidden away behind more modern buildings or facades.