Ancient market and wool town, which grew up around a monastery and priory, dating back to the time of King Offa.
View of Hitchin from Windmill Hill © TAB
The town's attractive central square has many fine old buildings and inns dating back to the medieval period. Sun street, Tilehouse Street and Bridge Street also have a good selection of old timber framed buildings. The early 17th-c half-timbered almshouses on Biggin Lane are of interest, built on the site of a Gilbertine Priory.
Church of St Mary's © TAB
The medieval Church of St Mary's is the largest parish church in the county. It has a fine old porch and good screenwork. The town's delightful 14th-century Carmelite Monastery (on Tilehouse St), has been converted into a modern hotel and wedding venue.
The town prospered during the medieval period from the wool and straw trade. Straw was sold in the marketplace for the local cottage industry of straw plaiting. Although the straw trade has long since declined, a regular produce market is still held behind the church on a Tuesday and Saturday.
The Letchworth Museum and Hitchin Museum collections have been merged to form the North Hertfordshire Museum and Art Gallery. The displays cover the history of North Hertfordshire, with exhibits on local history, natural history, period costume and Victoriana. The dedicated art gallery has works by local artists, including Samuel Lucas, William Ratcliffe, Spencer Gore and Frederick Griggs, plus regular changing exhibitions.
Opening times: currently closed for refurbishment
Location: Brand Street, Hitchin SG5 1JE
Tel: 01462 474554
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