Area Guide: The historic market town of Hitchin
Herts Ad Property team
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
With its historic centre packed with beautifully preserved Tudor and Georgian buildings and its convenient rail and road links, Hitchin is one of Hertfordshire's most desirable towns. We found out more about it...
Three miles from the A1(M), 10 miles from the M1 and half an hour from London King's Cross by train, Hitchin is a well connected commuter hotspot.
The wool trade gave the area prominence during the 17th century, when it became a popular place for travellers to and from London to break up their journeys.
Today, the cobbled Market Place, flanked by shops and restaurants, is a favoured spot for special events in the town.
Amenities and attractions
Hitchin's town centre offers up all the usual chain stores alongside a healthy mix of independents.
The busy market trades four days a week, with a general market on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, plus antiques and collectibles on Fridays and a car boot sale on Sundays. A craft and farmers’ market is held on the last Saturday of the month.
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St Mary's is the largest parish church in Hertfordshire. It dates back to 1190, but many believe King Offa founded a church on its site in the 8th century.
The British Schools Museum, based in original Victorian and Edwardian school buildings on Queen Street, gives visitors an insight into what education used to be like. There's also a tearoom and shop.
The North Hertfordshire Museum offers four galleries full of exhibits with a local theme and also has an on-site café and shop.
The Hitchin Festival is a month-long celebration of the arts every July, with a range of events including poetry, concerts and kids' entertainment.
Hitchin Lavender is a huge draw in the summer months, with visitors flocking to enjoy the 25 miles of lavender fields and the fabulous photo opportunities they present. Owned and operated by a local family, there's a restaurant, gift shop and play area, making for an ideal day trip.
Hitchin Swimming Centre has two indoor pools and an outdoor heated option which is open during the summer.
Windmill Hill offers fine views of the town centre and an is an ideal place for a picnic in the summer months, while Bancroft Gardens has a splash park, basketball court, bandstand, children's play area, pair of bowling greens and private tennis club.
Just outside the town centre is Butts Close, an 11-acre park believed to have been used as an archery ground during medieval times.
Claims to fame
Hitchin also has its fair share of celeb connections: England and Arsenal star Jack Wilshere, singer James Bay and TV journalist Jennie Bond are all from here and popular TV drama Doctor Foster, starring Suranne Jones and Jodie Comer, was filmed in the town.
A significant factor in Hitchin’s appeal to families its many excellent state schools.
Popular primaries include Samuel Lucas JMI, St Andrew's and William Ransom, all of which are rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted.
Hitchin Boys' School – where singer James Bay went – and Hitchin Girls' School, are also rated 'outstanding'.
Food and drink
Places to eat are plentiful, offering food from a variety of cultures.
Popular independents include Los Reyes tapas restaurant, Bar Azita Mediterranean grill and Kazoku, a Japanese eaterie.
Hermitage Rd, which sits on the street of the same name, is a popular restaurant/theatre hybrid inside a former ballroom. Private dining and live music are also on offer.
Chilli B's, located in a Victorian building on pretty Bucklersbury, is a great place for breakfast or lunch, while The Victoria is a live music pub with a buzzing beer garden.
According to Rightmove, the average sale price for a property in Hitchin over the last year was £462,900, up 1 per cent on 12 months ago.
Homes currently on the market in the town include a detached period property on prestigious Benslow Lane for £1.75m, a Grade II listed former pub on Tilehouse Street for £900,000 and a cottage on Florence Street for £350,000.