Area Guide: The popular Hertfordshire town of Hitchin
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
The Hetfordshire market town of Hitchin dates back to the 7th century. We found out more about this historic place.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
Samuel Lucas JMI is a popular Ofsted 'outstanding' primary school close to the centre of town.
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.
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.
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
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.