Domesday Tales: an introduction

2 min read

There once was a historian who spent a considerable portion of her life contemplating a rather strange idea. She claimed that all the world’s nations and states, towns and boroughs had people that represent them.  

Several of her critics claimed she wasted the latter half of her life entertaining such a ridiculous concept, scoffing in her face and claiming her thoughts could be chalked up to an obsession with the antiquated ideas of patron gods and an exaltation of the supposed virtues of the city- and nation-states.

But, contrary to the naysayers’ beliefs, there did exist human-like, virtually immortal amalgamations of ideology and culture, borne of clay and earth, forged from eons of struggle, and thriving off the prosperity of their respective lands. They were as much parts of their lands as their lands were of them, equal parts politic and person, and had whims and vices that would occasionally stray from that of their respective nation’s, township’s, or borough’s…and, so they lived, aware yet unaware, somebodies, yet nobodies.

I should know, I’m one of them. Charlie Giles Philip Jeremy Alington-Kirkland. I personify Cambridgeshire, a county in the East of England.

One day, a few of these strange entities residing in the British Isles–my brothers and sisters, actually–received a summons from some clandestine organization, comprised of what one could only assume to be perpetuators of the deranged historian’s ideas.The letters were written on antiquated sheets of yellowing parchment, sealed with ink, stamped, and distributed via Royal Mail to each of the many representatives.

Preceding a series of instructions to meet at a tiny inn called the “Domesday Inn” the following day was the antiquated preface, “To whom it should concern.” Each of the unsigned letters contained a reference to its recipient’s place of origin. Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s representative’s letter was peppered with Geordie slang, and London’s began with a hearty, “How now, me old cock!” Exeter’s contained a poorly inserted allusion to Sir Francis Drake’s epic journey.

One little personification, William Orwell-Kirkland, representative of the town of Ipswich, in Suffolk, immediately groaned upon seeing the letter, as it meant he had to leave the perfectly paved roads of his beloved town. East Anglians like himself weren’t especially known to leave the confines of their houses, let alone their cities or counties.

He dreaded the entire day as he begrudgingly combed his unruly brown hair, got dressed, and stepped out the doors of his humble abode in the center of town, his younger sister, Edythe Baldwin-Kirkland, trailing behind him. She represented Bury St. Edmund’s, a town not too far from Ipswich. He dreaded the coming few hours as he boarded a Greater Anglia train, headed for the birthplace of Bede.

As he and little Bury stepped out, they were greeted with the glances of a plethora of parochial people, and a cacophony of counties and cities’ insults…