Baldock Bimble Mk III - Thursday 26th June 2014

Leader Phil Hastings, 12+1 on the walk

Map of route word (1MB) pdf (362KB).

See below for all (and no doubt 'more') than you ever wanted to know about a couple of the sights on my walk.

1. About two-thirds of the way through the morning walk we pass the remains of a church and shortly afterwards the entrance to a farm riding school which has historical links to it. The info on both are as follows:

The ruins of St Etheldreda’s church, Chesfield, viewable from the roadside. This church was in existence by 1216, but what you see is an early fourteenth-century single cell chancel, nave and SE chapel. The church was dismantled and deconsecrated in 1750 and is now on English Heritage’s register of ‘Buildings at Risk’.
Chesfield Manor Farm (now an equestrian centre). The farmhouse itself is mostly late eighteenth century, but there are remnants of the original seventeenth-century manor house, most especially the moulded oak mullioned
window on the ground floor of the west range. The house is most probably on the site of the original medieval manor house of the deserted village of Chesfield. Like many other villages in Western Europe, the population of
Chesfield fell victim to the ravages of the Black Death in the mid fourteenth century and the village simply never recovered.

2. Just after lunch we walk through the grounds of Weston's Holy Trinity Church where we pass the grave of 'Jack O'Legs'. There are various local legends about who he actually was and how he came to be  buried there. Two of them are as follows:

Jack O'Legs was said to be a giant from Hertfordshire, England. Jack is said to have been an archer who like Robin Hood robbed the rich to give to the poor. His supposed grave is in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Weston. According to local legend, Jack lived in a cave in a wood at Weston near the mediaeval town of Baldock. When one year there was a poor harvest, the Baldock bakers raised the price of flour, so Jack ambushed the bakers and gave the flour to his friends in Weston. In revenge, the bakers caught and blinded him. They gave him a final wish. Jack asked to be pointed in the direction of Weston, so he could shoot an arrow with his bow. Where the arrow landed, he wished to be buried. The bakers gave him his huge bow which nobody else could pull. He shot his arrow three miles, into the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Weston, which is where he was buried.

Just inside the east gate of the graveyard you will find two small stones about 4 metres apart reputedly marking the grave of Jack O’Legs. He was a fourteenth-century giant and brigand who would rob travellers on the Great North Road (probably giving his name to Jack’s Hill, on the old Roman Great North Road which runs parallel to the AI, just north of Graveley) before repairing to his cave in the woods that then covered the Weston Hills. When finally caught and taken to the gibbet on Jack’s Hill he was allowed one last request – which was to fire his bow and to be buried where the arrow fell. It hit the tower of Weston church, three miles away, and landed inside the east gate.

(Dave Findel-Hawkins)