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Baldock's Middle Ages
Front Cover

Baldock's Middle AgesBack Cover

“ Baldock Middle Ages” is the first of a series of books for those concerned about the lives of their ancestors and the history of their home town. It relates simple, personal documents to the grander schemes of history; and describes an ancient town lost and forgotten as well as its strange replacement in Medieval Times.

The books are designed for local historians and for those with no personal interest in the town of Baldock; but especially for those who honour their forefathers by wanting to read and understand their ancient documents.

It provides a preparation and a practice for handling the parchments themselves, and bridges the impasse of Latin language until a more familiar English is reached.

In preparation: Documentary Evidence - Two - “A Market Town in Tudor Times”.
Early documents in English; The Reformation; The Parish Register; The
Origins of Local Government; Charities.

Baldock's Middle Ages
Vivian Crellin

These old sheep skins, scratched with a quill-pen so long ago, were not looked at with an unsentimental, logical eye. The ghost of old hands and immemorial anxieties prodded my mind as I learned to read the words. But the book does try to separate invention from evidence.

Document 2 is close to a true copy of the original parchment, and the lines drawn in lead by the scribe are visible on an otherwise clean sheet of script. Unfortunately, the process of reproduction treats these lines, however faint on the original as if they were as black as the ink. It does the same with shadows, creases and the brown stains of age. It also adds parallel marks of its own and reflections from surrounding areas of black. As a consequence, photostat reproductions are harder to read than the original parchments. The eye is a better tool and distinguishes ink from other marks.

The difficulty is less with microfilm through which a light shines, but those who have tried to read these old documents on viewers will appreciate some of the problems. Those are made worse by the necessity in almost every case for this book to reduce the size of the sheets to the size of its pages. Many photostats were unreadable in part, and I have restored them by whiting out the dark areas.

Like other restorations, once started it is difficult to stop without completing the job. Document 1 is a lightly cleaned-up copy. Some other documents have been heavily restored and the accidental or honourable scars of age have been eliminated. In the interests of legibility, some authenticity has been lost. Some remain as virtually faithful copies of the parchment.

In the matter of judgement there is no certain aesthetic line; in the matter of legibility, except for size, what appears is as easy to read as the original document. Sadly it has lost the midas-touch of real antiquity.

I am proud to live in a town with the unique distinction of having public toilets that once used to flush only when the organ was playing in the church. It is of little consequence that others cannot share our privilege, or imagine such strange distinctions are insubstantial fancies. I believe what I write, and if given time to get as far as the 18th century, I will explain.

The Author

Vivian Crellin left school in 1943, at the age of 17 to join the RAF and served for 4 years as a pilot.

After the war he took an M.A. at Christ’s College, Cambridge; married; and started teaching mathematics and science in Gillingham, Kent.

He moved to Baldock in 1960 and until 1984 was headmaster of the Knights Templar School there. He took a masters degree in philosophy.

In 1977 Eileen and Vivian Crellin bought and restored a condemned and derelict pub which had once been an Elizabethan alehouse. Since then it has been their home. They have one son, a consultant onchologist, and two grandchildren.

Publications: “Tongues of Men”, Hutchinson. Magazine articles on Cyphering and Writing Copy-books, School Medals, Captain Cook as a school boy, Needlework Samplers, Church Guides, Parish Records of Rainham, Kent.

Interests: Wilderness, Gardens, and the places in between.

e. [email protected] t. +44 (0)1462 896679, Royston Road, Baldock Hertfordshire. SG7 6QY United Kingdom

Copyright 2002-2014. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is strictly prohibited.
While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, and its agents cannot accept responsibility for claims made.