Hitchin is a picturesque market town steeped in history with many Tudor and Georgian buildings. The thriving creative community and surrounding countryside and London links, make it a sought-after place to live.

The North Hertfordshire was first reference, according to hitchinherts.com, in the 7th century, although the first modern reference to the name of ‘Hitchin’ was made as recently as the 17th century.

It is known to have existed since at least the eighth century AD, it is one of the oldest towns in the county.

Notable landmarks include St Mary’s Church, which is the largest parish church in Hertfordshire, and the tower dates back to 1190. There are links to the 8th century king of Mercia King Offa and there is a suggestion that he founded a church on the same site.

Inside the church there is a stunning carved 15th-century screen with figures of angels, a late-medieval wineglass pulpit, 15th-century memorial brasses, and a 12th-century effigy of Bernard of Balliol, ancestor of King John Balliol of Scotland

According to britainexpress.com the name 'Hitchin' was not used until the 17th century but the earliest record of a settlement here goes back 1,000 years earlier, to the 7th century.

The town was boosted by the wool trade along the nearby Icknield Way the prosperity of the town flourished in the 17th century and it became a staging post for those travelling to and from London.

The introduction of railways in 1850 cemented the town as a commercial centre.

There is a range of different architecture including the market place which is cobbled and surrounded by old buildings dating back to the 15th century.

According to Rightmove, properties in Hitchin had an overall average price of £512,391 over the last year. The majority of sales in Hitchin during the last year were semi-detached properties, selling for an average price of £535,648. Flats sold for an average of £261,915, with terraced properties fetching £485,690. Overall, sold prices in Hitchin over the last year were 12 per cent up on the previous year and 13 per cent up on the 2020 peak of £451,550.

Hitchin has done well to retain a lot of its historic character despite enormous growth in the last 200 years.

Great British Life: Museum exterior. Credit: North Herts CouncilsMuseum exterior. Credit: North Herts Councils

Exploring the town

On Queen Street is a fascinating museum of childhood and education housed in an early Victorian school. The school was founded in 1837 on Monitorial principles.

The viewpoint from Windmill Hill looking down onto the beautiful Hertfordshire town is popular with all ages. The south side of the hill gives a wide view of surrounding hills and the town can be seen from below with the Corn Exchange and St Mary's Church clearly visible.

You can also see English Longhorn Cattle at Oughtonhead Common just outside of town centre.

There’s always stuff going on at Hitchin Town Hall, museum and markets.

On Paynes Park is the Quaker Meeting House and beside the modern meeting house is a burial ground in use since the 18th century.

Physic garden

Within the grounds of the former Hitchin Museum at the corner of Nuns Close and Paynes Park is a fascinating recreation of a medieval physic garden. The garden is maintained by a team of volunteers and features plants believed in the medieval period to have healing qualities. The garden is divided into four parts; plants that aid External Ailments, Internal Ailments, Household Plants, and the William Ransom Border.

Hitchin Priory was established in 1317 for the Carmelite order of mendicant friars. After the Priory was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1538 it was purchased by the Radcliffe family, who retained ownership until 1963.

There were two monastic foundations in Hitchin during the Middle Ages. The second was a Gilbertine Priory known as The Biggin, founded by Sir Edward de Kendale in 1361. The priory was dissolved in 1538 and part of the monastic complex of buildings was remodelled as a private house.

Just outside the town centre, north of Bedford Road, is Butts Close, an 11-acre public park so-named because it was originally used for archery practice.

Further outside the town is Hitchin Lavender, where you can see stunning fields of colourful lavender in the summer months.

Great British Life: Hitchin Highstreet. Credit: Jamie Meek Photography Hitchin Highstreet. Credit: Jamie Meek Photography

Food and drink

You can eat around the world in Hitchin, from tapas at Los Reyes Tapas Restaurant in 16 Bucklersbury, Mediterranean cuisine at Hermitage Rd Bar and Restaurant, Mexican food at Cantina Carnitas Hitchin, Japanese food at Kazoku Hitchin, Asian inspired food at Regent Cottage and Thai at Little Monkey, if the mood takes you.

Then there is the lovely oasis of calm at The Gardener's Retreat Restaurant at Hitchin Garden Centre.

For a kid friendly experience head to Lussmanns Sustainable Kitchen and Bar. Healthy and vegetarian friendly food can be found at Chia Naturally Healthy.

Get outdoors and enjoy a meal at Joey's Brunch and Taste Buds and have a get together with friends at Four Leaf Clover.

Hit the town with Ali Baba Hitchin and head to IBO'S Bar and Restaurant for a fun night out.

Great British Life: Hitchin Highstreet. Credit: Jamie Meek Photography Hitchin Highstreet. Credit: Jamie Meek Photography


The market town is known for its specialist shops and independent businesses selling unique items.

For vintage finds head to Our Favourite Shop - Vintage Clothing and Records Hitchin at and fabulous sustainable goods can be found at Jolly Brown Vintage, both at Arcade Walk.

For lovely homeware and gifts go to Etcetera , in Churchgate Shopping Centre, as well as Treat Yo' Self Gifts Ltd, 3 Arcade Walk and for a great selection at a good price go to Vinegar Hill, 6 Bancroft.

There is a wide range of independent stalls at The Fleetville Emporium and further treasures at Vintage Bay Gifts.

Gorgeous threads can be found at Riot Lounge, it's worth a trip out for their truly unique clothes and accessories.

Hitchin Market is one of the biggest outdoor markets in the region which runs by the river at the centre of the beautiful town.

There are more than 150 covered stalls which offer goods on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Throughout the year there are specialist market days which feature antiques every Friday and craft and farmers markets once a month.

Great British Life: Hitchin Market. Credit: North Herts CouncilsHitchin Market. Credit: North Herts Councils

Case study

Charlotte Bucciero, Charlotte Bucciero Interiors

"Hitchin has a thriving creative community with talented individuals and businesses coming together to share their skills and passions. As an interior Designer, I love collaborating with other local creatives in the industry. Working alongside architects, furniture makers and interior photographers at my 18th century Bancroft based Studio is a fantastic way to share ideas, gain inspiration, and bring fresh perspectives to my work. It is a great way to create a supportive network of fellow creatives who share similar passions and interests in and around Hertfordshire.

Some of the local companies we enjoy collaborating with are Moduu Living on Bancroft and Shuttermeup for wooden shutters on Hermitage road to name a few. The local beer shop might not be a creative outlet but a very welcome one never the less to gather at on Friday evenings!

Hitchin is a charming market town filled with beautiful Architecture and stunning rural surroundings. The town has been around since the 12th century, and its historic buildings and landmarks give it an interesting and timeless feel. I love taking walks through the town centre and admiring the beautiful mixture of architecture from the half-timbered houses to the Georgian town houses, the cobbled streets and independent cafes and shops which all make Hitchin an interesting place to be part of.

We are surrounded by beautiful countryside too, with my favourite weekend walks being our local fields linking us to neighbouring Gosmore and the small pig farm in Charlton.The Bancroft Gardens opposite our studio are perfect for soaking up some sun rays in my lunch breaks too. And my morning walk into the Studio brings me over Hermitage Hill with its amazing views over the surrounding countryside and Hitchin at the base of it all.

Being only a short train ride away from London city, I have access to all the amazing elements of the big city and its amazing museums and so much more!"