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Underground Lair Still Used by Knights Templar
A SECRET labyrinth of tunnels under Hertford’s streets has been revealed to the Mercury.
Members of the Knights Templar, a secret society which still has members in the town, have spoken for the first time about the underground lair used by their forebears almost 1,000 years ago.
Emanating from the dungeons of Hertford Castle and from Fore Street, the passages run like a warren under the ancient county town and stretch from Bluecoats to County Hall, according to the group.
Today, many of the entrances to the subterranean passages’ have been bricked up but, according to the modern-day knights, some are still in use — and may even be booby-trapped.
Too fantastic to be true? Reporter RAYMOND BROWN investigates.
AT a secret location in the town, Tim Acheson declared: “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 street and extends to Fore Street, Market Square, Parliament Square, Hertford Castle, Church Street, Bluecoats, Priory Street — and in fact many, many other places.
“It reaches beneath well-known central Hertford locations, including the tourist office, the Castle, Monsoon, Threshers, the post office, Bayley Hall, and the council offices, both within the Castle and in County Hall.”
The Mercury was able to verify that one of these passages once connected Shire Hall, now home to Hertford Magistrates’ Court, to the Salisbury Arms in Fore Street. Mercury photographer Mike Poultney was there the day it was sealed 25 years ago.
Tim’s twin brother Ben said: “The Fore Street section once extended to a substantial section beneath Bluecoats School, which is still accessible from certain buildings.
“The Bluecoats section has many secret side-chambers and passages, one of which leads to chambers beneath the old pub the Dolphin, as well as a massive section beneath Priory Street.
“The Priory Street section was used by Templar mystics operating secretly among the Christians of the former long-gone Priory, which gave Priory Street its name.”
And Ben, who lives in Hertford, claims that two secret societies still meet in the tunnels.
“The ancient subterranean labyrinth beneath Hertford is quite extensive, although most of it must for now remain secret — and some chambers are still in use,” he said.
“Much of the network was made by the Templars and secret societies linked to them.
“Some of this work took place long after the Order officially disbanded in 1307.
“Hertford’s labyrinth could in fact provide the final proof that the Templars disappeared underground — both literally and metaphorically.”
With so many of the tunnels bricked up, it is hard to verify all the Achesons’ claims.
But the Mercury, with the help of Hertford Museum, has uncovered an old map showing a tunnel running from Bayley Hall, which was said to run to what is now Lussman’s restaurant in Fore Street, where another secret society met. We have also found blocked entrances to tunnels in Threshers in Fore Street and in the tourist office.
Ben said: “All the sections of the secret Templar labyrinth were once linked. Here are the parts that I can tell you about.
“Fore Street was once the hub of the only part of the network that you know about. No 42 Fore Street was once linked to numerous chambers beneath Fore Street.
“It is still linked, via a passage recently blocked by the previous owners of 42 Fore Street, reaching to Bayley Hall and beyond.
“This section also branches out to the Old Vicarage, where the Templar-founded Theosophical Society co-founded a cell of another secret society, the Knights Templar of Aquarius, via a local mystic and medium whose ancestors once owned Bayley Hall as well.”
According to Ben, the chambers host meetings not only of the Templars, but of the Illuminati — a shadowy and powerful group said to be bent on world domination and boasting President George W Bush among its members.
A recent Sky TV documentary suggested that members of the dark sect live in the town.
“Some remain in use by the Templars and the Illuminati,” said Ben. “In places you can see where passages led from some of the still-accessible parts of the labyrinth, linking all of the above sections together and leading to several still secret tunnels and chambers.
“We cannot yet reveal details of these. There are also long-forgotten sections beneath other parts of Hertford, as well as in Royston and Temple Farm, near Bengeo.”
He said there are also branches beneath Church Street leading to chambers around the dungeons and vaults of Hertford Castle — one leads all the way to County Hall.
Sections of it are now blocked and partially occupied by a Cold War nuclear bunker under what is now Elbert Wurlings bar and restaurant.
“These once led to sections beneath and around the crypt of All Saints’ Church, as well as St Andrew Street and beyond,” added Ben.
Margaret Harris, of Hertford Museum, said: “I only know for sure about the Bayley Hall tunnel, which I believe was used by the judges when it was a law court so that they could get to All Saints’ Church nearby.
“That’s all I know and I’m quite sceptical about this until I can see more proof. But they are supposed to be secret.”
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