Recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a Royal Manor, modern-day Hitchin has managed to retain its historic ambiance. The villages of Ickleford, St Ippolyts and Gosmore are located close to this attractive market town, which is reputed to have been favoured by Henry VIII.
The introduction of the railways in the 19th century saw the Corn Exchange being built to accommodate the burgeoning grain trade. Hitchin now has direct rail links to major centres, such as London, Stevenage and Cambridge, by way of the Great Northern Line. The construction of motorways has also been advantageous for the residents, bringing Luton within easy reach of commuters.
Visitors flock to Hitchin for the annual three week festival, which incorporates 'Rhythms of the World'. This showcases both local and international talents and is generally held in July, in the Priory grounds. Hitchin Museum and Art Gallery, in Paynes Park, hosts local and guest exhibitions of art as well as housing a substantial collection of artefacts relevant to the area's history. Just five miles away is the majestic Windsor Castle, the largest occupied castle in the world.
Hitchin Swimming Centre, on Fishponds Road, has great facilities including heated indoor and outdoor pools and shared amenities with Archers Health & Fitness Club. Royston Leisure Centre is a well-equipped sports hall and operates a comprehensive schedule of children's' activities.
Market Square comes alive on Tuesdays and Saturdays with fresh produce vendors and an antique market on Fridays. The growing populace of nearby Stevenage make use of this outdoor event and it has proven to be a good day out in Hertfordshire for Londoners.