from the Hitchin Initiative
Hitchin nestles at the foothills of The Chilterns, in rural North Hertfordshire and set in glorious countryside. The town is also easy to reach being well positioned, just 35 miles from London and within 10 minutes of both the M1 and A1(M).
Hitchin is a lively, bustling Market Town with a great sense of history but with a forward-looking commitment to remaining the pre-eminent town in the District. Hitchin’s award-winning Market is open now 4 days each week with general stalls on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday enhanced by bric-a-brac and collectables on Friday and compulsive car-booters on Sunday!
On the last Saturday of each month there is also an attractive riverside Local Produce & Crafts Market and more recently, a Street Food Fest on the first Saturday. Plenty to keep bargain hunters happy.
The Hitchin British Schools Museum is unique in that it is the only surviving example in the world of an original ‘monitorial schoolroom’ where children from poor backgrounds were able to get a basic education. The schoolroom dates from 1837 and later additions include the Gallery Classroom from 1853 and the Edwardian classrooms from 1905. Guides are available or you are welcome to explore at your leisure. www.britishschoolsmuseum.co.uk St Mary’s is the largest parish church in the county after St Albans and is mentioned as a Minster in the Domesday Book. Founded around 792AD, it has been much changed over the centuries but the main body of the church dates from the 1300s and 1400s when it was funded by wealth from the wool trade. Take time to visit this beautiful building which is right at the heart of the town.
Whether you are a foodie or a fashionista or simply looking for that original gift, the independent shops of Hitchin will not disappoint. The range of clothing shops get together and run two great fashion shows on the Market Place each year – one to highlight Spring/Summer collections in May and then in October to profile what’s on offer for Autumn/Winter; from latest trends to vintage, sportswear to bridal outfits. There are great food shops in Hitchin – independent butcher Allinghams with locally reared meat and a wide selection of tasty sausages that are made on the premises; Quotidian bakery at the end of Sun Street where the early morning aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries tempts many on their way to work to stop off for coffee and croissant; Halseys Deli and Tearooms near St Marys with the best cheese counter around and lots of independent cafes with a menu of refreshments from tea and cake to a glass of wine and a three course meal. And with our many and varied restaurants, it has been said that you can eat your way around the world in Hitchin!
Hitchin is a great town for music and the arts. There are two theatres – The Queen Mother Theatre www.qmt.org.uk and the Market Theatre in Sun Street www.markettheatre.co.uk both of which present Christmas productions as well as a great variety of productions throughout the year. Music plays a big part in the life of the town whether jazz at one of the pubs, Hitchin Folk Club at The Sun Hotel, a classical concert in St Mary’s or in the wonderful Morrison Hall at Benslow Music Trust www.benslowmusic.org Hitchin Festival takes place in July each year when over 100 productions are staged across a range of cultural activities – programmes are out at the end of May and on the website www.hitchin-festival.co.uk December is a busy month as well with concerts, pantomimes and outdoor events; Christmas Tree Lights Switch-On on Friday 22nd November with stalls and entertainment, food and gluhwein from 2pm to 8pm; Markets Gala Day on Sunday 8th December from 10am until 5pm with street stalls, a stage for music and lots of roaming street entertainers; Father Christmas arrival on Sunday 15th December from around 11am until 3pm and then our open-air carol concert at 8pm on Wednesday 18th December.
These are just a few reasons why Hitchin should be a stop off point on any tour or a day trip destination. We can help with any enquiry – coach parking, meet & greet, guided tours, catering etc. We can also supply Brief Guides to Historic Hitchin for an independent tour, a Blue Plaque guide leaflet, maps, information on the wider area and during the summer we can signpost tours to Hitchin Lavender Farm and some of the delightful villages that make up Hitchin’s rural area. Hotel rooms are available at The Sun Hotel, Hitchin Priory, The Lord Lister Hotel, The Firs Hotel and Bella Vita.
There is also now an iphone app – see hitchin.co.uk/app