Thursday, 26 November 2009

Baghdad to Baldock

Balian (Orlando Bloom, left) and a newly anointed Knight (Martin Hancock) prepare to defend Jerusalem against overwhelming forces.By the standards of the north Hertfordshire commuter belt, Baldock is a pleasant little settlement. Situated where the Great North Road and the Icknield Way meet, it became one of the great staging centres of early modern England, hence the large number of drinking establishments found on its wide streets, and the long list of famous folk who have passed through, including Charlies Stuart and Dickens, as well as ‘Mad’ King Ludwig of Bavaria, subject of films by Visconti and Syberberg and patron of Wagner. But the strangest thing about Baldock is that it was named after Baghdad by its founders, the Knights Templars, who established the settlement in the 12th century, a time when they had their sights on the then glorious, now benighted city on the Tigris. Are there any other unlikely places with grand names?

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