On 8th October 2004 the Hertfordshire Mercury reported that a secret labyrinth of tunnels existed under the streets of the small, English town of Hertford; and that modern day descendants of the Knights Templar still met in underground chambers
This is how the story was published. “We are now prepared to reveal a secret we feel the people of Hertford should be made aware of. There is an extensive labyrinth right under their feet. We are talking here about a largely unknown, indeed mostly secret, ancient underground network that stretches beneath the town’s main streets.”
Hertford became the centre of media attention; film crews from around the world descended on the small county town to film this network of underground tunnels. They were disappointed; they were met by rebuffs from town officials, historians and community groups. The tunnels were never filmed if indeed they ever existed.
The evidence for and against the existence of tunnels is set in this book; and will interest anyone with an interest in secret societies from the Knights Templar to modern day Freemasons. In doing so this book offers a short history of the town from the days when it was a Norman stronghold; and a tourist guide for anyone wanting to spend a day exploring its rich architectural heritage, historic pubs and modern bars..
This second and revised version includes new research material, extra photos and two completely new chapters. One covers the persecution and eradication of the Knights Templar in Great Britain. The other offers a final solution as to the origin, the building and the reason for the disappearance of the tunnel network.
A fairly brief resume of the book covering all the main points with some photographs is available to read on this site - The Tunnels of Hertford.
I love history generally and have a taste for local history. So I was a natural reader for THE TUNNELS OF HERTFORD, especially as I do not live that far away and have visited Hertford.
I found the essay interesting on several levels.
Firstly, it displays a detailed knowledge based on close research into and familiarity with a very historic English town that played an important role in our history. I appreciated the dedication to source materials and to getting things right.
Secondly, I enjoyed the forensic thrust of the essay and the way it showed how a journalist and a few people with axes to grind can whip up a media bandwaggon by applying the don't-let-the-facts-get-in-the-way-of-a-good-story principle. The Dan Brown story clearly takes this approach to the ultimate level. The local angle on the tunnels of Hertford is like a flea in coat of that very shaggy dog story. Yet the debunking is not done in a mean spirit. The essay merely examines the evidence, or lack of any evidence to substantiate the press story of Hertford's tunnels. It provides balance. This is vital. There must be scores of similar stories every year that go unquestioned and pass into local faction.
Thirdly, the essay stimulated a great curiosity in me about the actuality of the Knights Templar, their connection with Royston, and their repression. I will certainly be reading more about said knights thanks to reading this enjoyable critique of a local myth.
A very interesting read. If, like me, you are a newcomer to Hertford or just a visitor this gives a nice historical background to this lovely town. John Barber draws you in without every going over the top. You can sense his love of the town and you leave his words sharing a little bit of that feeling too.