infobox UK place
country = England
latitude = 51.9476
longitude = -0.2832
official_name = Hitchin

static_image_caption= Hitchin Market Place
population = 30,360
shire_district = North Hertfordshire
shire_county = Hertfordshire
region = East of England
constituency_westminster= Hitchin and Harpenden
post_town = Hitchin
postcode_district = SG4, SG5
postcode_area = SG
dial_code = 01462
os_grid_reference = TL181292

Hitchin is a town in Hertfordshire, England, and has an estimated population of 30,360.


Hitchin is first noted as the central place of the Hicce people mentioned in a seventh-century document, the Tribal Hidage. The tribal name is Brittonic rather than Old English and derives from *"siccā", meaning 'dry', perhaps a reference to the local stream, the Hiz. There exists credible evidence that Hitchin was the location chosen in 673 by Archbishop Theodore of Tarsus during the Synod of Hertford, the first nationwide meeting of representatives of the fledgling Catholic churches of Anglo-Saxon England, to hold annual synods of the churches as Theodore attempted to consolidate and centralise Catholicism in England. [Hindley, "The Anglo-Saxons - The beginnings of the English nation", 47.] By 1086 Hitchin is described as a Royal manor in the Domesday Book. Evidence has been found to suggest that the town was once provided with an earthen bank and ditch fortification, probably in the tenth century, but this did not last. The modern spelling 'Hitchin' first appears in 1618 in a document called the 'Hertfordshire Feet of Fines'.

The name of the town also is associated with the small river that runs through the town, most picturesquely in front of the east end of St. Mary's Church, the town's parish church. The river is noted on maps as the River Hiz. Contrary to how most people now pronounce the name, that is to say phonetically, the 'z' was an abbreviated character for a 'tch' sound, as in the name of the town. It would have been pronounced 'River Hitch'. (A similar example is the 'y' which was, or is, an abbreviation for a 'th' in phrases and names such as Ye Olde King's Head).

Hitchin is notable for St. Mary’s Church which is remarkably large for town of its size. The size of the church is evidence of how Hitchin prospered from the wool trade. It is the largest parish church in Hertfordshire. Most of the church dates from the fifteenth century, with its tower dating from around 1190. During the laying of a new floor in the church in 1911, foundations of a more ancient church building were found. In form, they appear to be a basilican church of a seventh-century type, with a later enlarged chancel and transepts, perhaps added in the tenth century. This makes the church older than the story (not recorded before the fifteenth century) that the church was founded by Offa, king of Mercia 757-796.

In 1697, Hitchin (and the nearby village of Offley) were subject to what is thought to have been the most severe hailstorm in recorded UK history. Hailstones over 4 inches in diameter were reported.

The town flourished on the wool trade, and located near the Icknield Way and by the seventeenth century Hitchin was a staging post for coaches coming from London. By the middle of the 19th century the railway had arrived, and with it a new way of life for Hitchin. The Corn Exchange was built in the Market Place and within a short time Hitchin established itself as a major centre for grain trading.

The latter half of the twentieth century has also brought great changes in communication to Hitchin. Motorways have shortened the journey time and brought Luton, a few miles away on the M1, and the A1 (M) even closer. By the close of the twentieth century, Hitchin had become a satellite dormitory town for London. Hitchin also developed a fairly strong Sikh community based around the Walsworth area.

During the medieval period, both a priory (Newbigging, now known as The Biggin) and a friary (now known as Hitchin Priory) were established, both of which closed during Henry VIII's dissolution. They were never reformed, although The Biggin was for many years used as almshouses.

Hitchin is also the venue for the annual Rhythms of the World [ [http://www.rotw.org.uk Rhythms of the World] ] festival, which was previously the largest free festival of world music in Europe. (Made payable as of 2008)

Hitchin is home to the world’s only known complete Lancasterian Schoolroom which was built in 1837 to teach boys by the Lancasterian method.

It is locally reputed that Henry VIII nearly died in a fire in Hitchin. It is also alleged that Henry VIII, when he was fitter, thought he was able to pole vault over the local river, the River Hiz. However, he had grown somewhat fatter than he knew, and the pole snapped from underneath him. He fell into the river, much to the amusement of his servants. This event is commemorated on the sign of the "Bucks Head" [http://www.thebucksheadpub.co.uk] pub in nearby Little Wymondley. However, it is known that Henry VIII did hunt in the area around Hitchin.

port in Hitchin

Hitchin Town F.C. was established in 1865 and later reformed in 1928. It is one of only three clubs who competed in the first ever FA Cup and still do so now. The club is the biggest sporting entity in the town.

Hitchin is also home to Blueharts Hockey Club [http://www.blueharts.org.uk] , a leading club since 1946.

It also houses Hitchin Cricket Club, which has been an important cricket club within the area since 1866.

Hitchin has a local swimming club, Hitchin Swimming Club [http://www.hitchinswimmingclub.co.uk/] , which competes at local level. The club is a good club however fails to meet the standards of Putteridge swimming club, Luton and most other swimming pools. The club meets at Hitchin Swim Centre on Fishponds Road, Hitchin.

Hitchin also has a thriving rugby club. Founded in 1954, it has appeared at Twickenham in 1993 in the cup final for Junior clubs. Hitchin RFC lost to Fleetwood. Nowadays, Hitchin RFC runs 4 adult mens teams, 1 adult women's team, and mini and youth rugby teams at all ages.


In 1960 Hitchin Urban District Council was the first in Britain to introduce 'black bags' for refuse collection.

Hitchin also has its own Air Training Corps squadron, 1066 (Hitchin) Squadron. [http://www.hitchinaircadets.co.uk/] Every year the squadron takes part in a competition with 30 other squadrons around the wing, and for the last two years (in 2006 and 2007) the squadron has come first in the overall competition. Hitchin Squadron is also one of the only squadrons in the wing with a fully functional marching band.


Hitchin railway station is on the Great Northern Line. There are direct connections to London, Stevenage, Peterborough, and Cambridge.

Hitchin is about three miles to the A1(M) motorway and about ten miles to the M1 motorway.

Historically Hitchin was part of the Western area of the Eastern National Omnibus Company who built a bus garage in the town on Fishponds Road. Hitchin was one of the depots handed over to the United Counties Omnibus Company in the 1950s. In 1986 when United Counties was privatised, Hitchin bus garage became part of the Luton & District transport company, now a member of the Arriva group. In January 2007 Hitchin Garage was closed down and is currently out of use, awaiting demolition for housing. Bus services in Hitchin are now provided by Centrebus, Arriva & Stagecoach with smaller local operators visiting on more infrequent services.

London Country Bus services also had a garage in Bridge Street, Hitchin, which was the furthest place North in the North Thames area of London Country's vast area. With the rapid expansion of near-by Stevenage in the 1950s the outdated and small garage at Hitchin was replaced by a newer depot in Danestrete, Stevenage and on 29th April 1959 Hitchin's LCBS depot closed for good. The garage site is still in existence today, and is likely to outlive the ENOC depot in Fishponds Rd, and has already outlived the Stevenage garage which was demolished in the mid 1990's.

Famous People born in Hitchin

* Henry Bessemer, engineer
* Jennie Bond, journalist
* Drewe Broughton, footballer
* George Chapman, poet
* Chris Cleaver, footballer
* Karl Duguid, footballer
* Gail Emms, badminton player
* Ross Flitney, footballer
* Mathew Gates, figure skater
* Martin Gordon, musician
* F.L. Griggs, etcher
* Henry Hawkins, 1st Baron Brampton, judge
* Thea King, clarinettist
* Dave Kitson, footballer
* Frank Launder, film director
* Elaine Murray, Scottish politician
* David Noble (footballer)
* Arvind Parmar, tennis player
* Kevin Phillips (footballer)
* Kevin Pilkington, footballer
* Ian Poulter, Golfer
* Michael Robbins 'On the Buses' actor
* Steve Sheppard B.B.C. Football Commentator and Reporter
* Valerie Singleton, TV presenter
* Richard Walker (angler)
* Diana Wallis, politician (MEP)
* Richard Whitmore, former newsreader
* Gary Younge, journalist

Famous connections

A famous connection to Hitchin is the American actor/comedian Bob Hope who died in 2003. Bob Hope was originally born in Eltham, South-east London in 1902 and emigrated to the USA in 1907 at the age of four. However, he maintained strong links with his family back in England and still has family in the Hitchin area. Indeed, Bob Hope "claimed to have inherited his sense of humour from his paternal grandfather from Hitchin" [http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,1007817,00.html]

The funeral of the conductor and founder of the Promenade Concerts, Henry Wood, took place in Hitchin at St. Mary's Church. He had been taken to Hitchin Hospital on 16 August 1944 and died there three days later.

Hitchin was at one time home to Sir Frank Whittle. It was also a home of Joseph Lister, and his old school is now the Lord Lister Hotel.

ee also

*British Schools Museum (Hitchin)


Primary schools

* Highover School
* Mary Exton Primary School
* Oughtonhead Primary
* Our Lady's School [http://www.ourladys.herts.sch.uk/]
* Purwell JMI School
* Samuel Lucas JMI School
* St Andrews Primary School [http://www.standrews.herts.sch.uk/]
* Strathmore School
* William Ransom Primary School
* Wilshere Dacre Junior Schoolwhitehill school

econdary Schools

* Hitchin Girls' School
* Hitchin Boys' School
* The Priory School

Independent schools

* Kingshott School is located just outside Hitchin in the village of St Ippolyts
* Princess Helena College is an independent school for girls located in the small village of Preston near Hitchin. It is housed in a Queen Anne country house, which was redesigned by Lutyens; the gardens were designed by Gertrude Jekyll at around the same time.
*The Hitchin Yeshiva, a Jewish rabbinical school, is based in nearby Great Offley.

=Youth Organisations=These include:
* Sea Cadet Corps - TS Danae
* Army Cadet Force
* Air Training Corps (Air Cadets) - 1066 Squadron - [http://www.hitchinaircadets.co.uk Official Website]
* HITOM & First Hitchin Explorer Scouts
* Hicca Ranger Guides

=Twinning=Hitchin is twinned with:

=Districts of Hitchin=
* Bearton
* Benslow
* Highbury
* Oakfield
* Poets Estate
* Purwell
* Sunnyside
* Walsworth
* West Hitchin
* Westmill
* Whitehill
* Wymondley Park

=Nearby villages=
* Ashwell
* Bendish
* Breachwood Green
* Charlton
* Codicote
* Gosmore
* Graveley
* Great Wymondley
* Great Offley
* Hexton
* Holwell
* Ickleford
* Kimpton
* Kings Walden
* Lilley
* Little Offley
* Little Wymondley
* Pirton
* Preston
* St Ippolyts
* St Paul's Walden
* Shillington
* Whitwell


=External links=
* [http://www.hitchinhistoricals.org.uk/ Hitchin Historical Society]
* [http://www.hitchin-circuit.co.uk/ Hitchin Town Race Circuit & Image Library]
* [http://www.hitchin.net/ Hitchin.Net]
* [http://www.thecomet.net/ Hitchin Comet Newspaper Online]
* [http://www.htci.org.uk/ Hitchin Town Centre Initiative]
* [http://www.hitchintownfc.co.uk/ Hitchin Town Football Club]
* [http://www.blueharts.org.uk/ Hitchin Blueharts Hockey Club]
* [http://www.hitchinlacrosse.com/ Hitchin Lacrosse Club]
* [http://www.hitchinrfc.com/ Hitchin Rugby Club]
* [http://www.hitchinswimmingclub.co.uk/ Hitchin Swimming Club]
* [http://www.hitchin-nomads.net/ Hitchin Nomads Cycling Club]
* [http://www.putteridgesc.co.uk]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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