The first reference to the town is to Baldoce in 1135-54 and The Place-names of Hertfordshire records that "This town was founded by the Knights Templars in the 12th century as shown in the statement in Dugdale 'in qua terra ipsi construxerunt burgum qui dicitur Baudac.' Baldac is the Old French form for Baghdad (Italian Baldacco), and Skeat rightly suggested that the place was named by the Templars after the Arabian city. Ekwall notes that Manderville and Skelton call Baghdad Baldak and Baldock.

BALDOCK, a market town and parish in the hundred of Broadwater, county of Hertford, 18 miles (N by W) from Hertford, and 37 ( N by W) from London, on the great north road, containing 1550 inhabitants. This place, in the reign of Stephen, belonged to the Knights Templars, to whom Gilbert, Earl of Pembroke, gave the site, which, in a charter of confirmation granted by his descendant William, is called Baudoe, of which the present name is a variation; though some antiquaries derive it from Balbec, supposing the town to have been so called by the Templars, in memory of the city of that name in Syria, from which their order had been expelled by the Saracens.

The town is situated near the intersection of the Great North Road and the Roman Iknield-street, between two hills, which command an extensive view of a fine open country: it consists principally of one street, the houses in which are mostly ancient, interspersed with several of modern erection, and is amply supplied with water.  A Horticultural society, patronised by the nobility and gentry in the neighbourhood, was established in 1825. The trade is principally in malt, the land in the vicinity being highly favourable to the growth of barley; the fens and marsh land near the town form an extensive grazing district, and a great quantity of cheese of a particular quality is made here; there is also a very large public brewery.

The general market, which was on Saturday, had been discontinued, and a market, exclusively for the sale of straw-plat, is now held on Friday. The fairs are on the festivals of St James, St Andrew, and St Matthew, each continuing two days; at the last a great quantity of cheese is sold.

The county magistrates hold a petty session on the first Monday in every month: constables and other officers are appointed at the court leet of the lord of the manor. The living is a discharged rectory, in the archdeaconry of Huntingdon, and diocese of Lincoln, rated in the king's books at 10. 8.9., endowed with 800 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Crown. The church, dedicated to St Mary, was built by the Knights Templars, and nearly rebuilt in the early part of the fifteenth century: it is a spacious structure, partly in the Norman style, and partly in the later style of English architecture, with an octagonal steeple rebuilt a few years ago, and contains a fine carved oak screen, part of the ancient rood-loft, and a very curious font. There are places of worship for the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists. Almshouses for twelve aged widows were founded and endowed, in 1621, by Mr John Winne.

In cutting through Baldock Hill, to form a new turnpike road, a great number of fossils, consisting of cornua ammonis, sharks' teeth. &c., were discovered.

Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831

Pond Lane Council School
The enlargement shows a slate with the words "Baldock Council No 2"

For more information about the picture of school girls see
Pond Lane Council School, Baldock

In addition there was the Park Street School, built 1832, for 125 boys, 117 girls & 120 infants; average attendance, about 106 boys, 90 girls &70 infants. These schools are endowed with the following bequests, viz. Mrs Mary Hindley's (1837) & Miss Elizabeth Pryor's (1850), together amounting to 263 7s 2d. Miss Emma Pryor's of 49 9s & H. O. Roe's 200, invested  in 2 per cent Consols. Joseph V. Lloyd, master; Miss Charlotte Annie Taylor, mistress; Miss Christopher, infants' mistress. The children from Bygrave attend here. [Kelly's Directory, 1912]

Breweries in Baldock

There is extensive information on the breweries in Baldock in the book Brewers in Hertfordshire: A historical gazetteer. It includes some very useful information, including the map reproduced here.

Additional information, in answer to query about William Penn, brewer of White Horse Street, is given on the page the Brewers and Malsters of Baldock, Early 19th Century.

See also Whirlwind at Baldock. Maltings seriously damaged.


Maybe I have missed something but there appears to be a dearth of books specifically on Baldock's history - although it is regularly included in books covering the whole county and the lengthy historic description in the Victoria County History is available online. A check suggests that there is little apart from the town guide, published at intervals by the local council. I have not seen Edna Page's Baldock Voices: The Town as Remembered by Baldock People, published in 1991 but I assume that it concentrates on the 20th century.

Baldock from the Garden City
Painted Postcard by Louis Weirter

My own index only includes two items under Baldock.  Who was Jack O' Legs relates to local legends and has little to offer the family historian. Tudor Churchwardens' Accounts includes 16 pages transcribed from account books which have survived for the period 1540-1553 which includes personal names, which could be of interest to those searching that far back.

For a longer account of the town written in 1880 see
Guide to Hertfordshire

.Web Sites

Visit the Baldock Museum web site for more information on the town's history, etc.. The web page on St Mary the Virgin on A Church near You contains some pictures, but no history.

Boot, High Street S.

Frith Postcards

circa 1950

St Mary's Way




November 2009


Restructured with menu

February 2010


Postcard of Old Cottage

August 2016


Some pictures moved to 1903 page