Area Guide: The popular Hertfordshire town of Hitchin

Views of Windmill Hill, Hitchin, from Hermitage Road. 

Views of Windmill Hill, Hitchin, from Hermitage Road. - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

The Hetfordshire market town of Hitchin dates back to the 7th century. We found out more about this historic place.

St Mary's Church, Churchgate, Hitchin. Picture: DANNY LOO

St Mary's Church, Churchgate, Hitchin. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Hitchin's attractive town centre is packed with Tudor and Georgian buildings, with the cobbled Market Place providing a picturesque central point surrounded by shops and restaurants; this is also a favoured spot for special events.

The wool trade gave Hitchin prominence during the 17th century, when it became a popular place for travellers to and from London to break up their journeys.

Attractions

St Mary's is the largest parish church in Hertfordshire - its town dates back to 1190. Many believe that King Offa founded a church on the site of St Mary's in the 8th century.


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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.

Hitchin's historic Market Place. 

Hitchin's historic Market Place. - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

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The Hitchin Festival - dubbed "a summer festival for the people of Hitchin by the people of Hitchin" - runs every July,

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.

Amenities

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 and Saturdays, bric-a-brac on Fridays and a car boot sale on Sundays.

Market Place, Hitchin.

Market Place, Hitchin. - Credit: Danny Loo.

Green space

Scale Windmill Hill and have a picnic while taking in its fine views of the town centre, or visit Bancroft Gardens with its 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.

Schools

Samuel Lucas JMI is a popular Ofsted 'outstanding' primary school close to the centre of town.

The Gatwards of Hitchin clock in Market Place, Hitchin. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Gatwards of Hitchin clock in Market Place, Hitchin. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

State secondaries Hitchin Boys' School - where 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.

Large chains such as Zizzi and Café Rouge sit alongside independent eateries such as 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.

Bucklersbury, Hitchin. Picture: DANNY LOO

Picturesque Bucklersbury is one of Hitchin's most attractive streets. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Danny Loo.

Property

According to Rightmove, the overall average sale price for property in Hitchin over the last year was £391,534.

Most of these sales were of flats which sold for an average of £222,143. Semi-detached homes had an average selling price of £449,921 and terraced properties averaged at £385,824.

Homes currently on the market in the town include a five-bed semi-detached Georgian property on Oaks Close for £1,600,000 and a two-bed terraced house on Grove Lane for £375,000.

Transport

The view looking east from the top of St Mary's church tower towards Windmill Hill

The view looking east from the top of St Mary's church tower towards Windmill Hill - Credit: Archant

Hitchin's mainline station is just half an hour from King's Cross, while the town is three miles from the A1(M) and 10 miles from the M1.

Sport and leisure

Other outlets for sport are found in several of the town's leisure centres and gyms.

If you're into fitness, there are a selection of running clubs with early morning jogging for the brave and keen.

Hitchin Swimming Centre has two indoor pools and an outdoor heated option which is open during the summer months.

Claims to fame

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches) - Credit: Archant

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 was filmed in the town.

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