Historic medieval market town Hitchin is a beautiful Hertfordshire town offering a choice of character historic hotels and inn B&Bs and a superb selection of specialist shops and fine traditional pubs. Traditional Hitchin Markets take place three times a week including a specialist antiques and collectables market every Friday. Museums in Hitchin include the fascinating British Schools Museum set within school buildings dating from 1810. Two outstanding Hitchin theatres offer a packed programme of best drama.
Within easy reach of Hitchin is Britain's first Garden City, Letchworth Garden City founded on the utopian ideas of Ebenezer Howard and designed by two of Britain's most famous 20th century architects Parker and Unwin. Spectacular Arts & Crafts and Art Deco architecture features in Letchworth Garden City with the First Garden City Museum also essential visiting in the town.
Premier museums in Hitchin include the Hitchin Museum and Art Gallery first opened in 1939. The six superb galleries within feature social history displays including oral histories and an extensive photographic archive, a Yeomanry and Artillery Gallery and two art galleries.
The British Schools Museum in Hitchin is located in the original buildings of a historic 'Monitorial School' set up by a group of philanthropists, including local Hitchin solicitor William Wilshere and famous Quaker Joseph Lancaster. This historic school first opened in 1810, with the Monitorial principle working along the lines of teaching a selection of students who would then go on to teach other students. Before setting up a Monitorial School in Hitchin, Lancaster had already established a successful Monitoring School in Southwark area of London.
Interactive and a superb museum for children, the British Schools Museum in Hitchin offers guided tours and features fascinating period rooms including Edwardian classrooms, the Victorian Galleried Classroom dating from 1853 and The Lancasterian Schoolroom dating from 1837. A tour of these schoolrooms offers a fascinating insight into education through the 19th century. Lunchtime talks, a packed programme of family events linked to the history of education and changing exhibitions all feature at the British Schools Museum Hitchin. Sessions like 'A Taste of Victorian Lessons' are incredibly popular with groups and school visits.
The Hitchin Museum and Art Gallery is located between Paynes Park, Old Park Road and Nuns Close just west of Hitchin town centre. Find the British Schools Museum in Hitchin on the B656 Queen Street just east of the centre. Ample car parks are located in Hitchin town centre within walking distance of both these superb Hitchin Museums.
Historic traditional Hitchin Markets draw huge numbers of visitors to the town as do the many fine antique shops and speciality shops in Hitchin town centre. Markets in Hitchin have a fantastic atmosphere and take place weekly every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Friday is the focus for Hitchin antiques and collectables market and on the last Saturday of each month a Farmers Market and Craft Market takes place in the town centre around Churchgate.
Letchworth Garden City was born out of the utopian vision of Ebenezer Howard. As a young man Howard travelled extensively in America and was influenced by utopian visions their for social regeneration. Although linked to other late Victorian reform projects like Saltaire and Bournville villages, Howard's ideas which took form in Letchworth were different from these paternalistic projects in that he advocated co-operation and common ownership of land. Although much diluted, Howard's ideas were a major influence on town planning through the 20th century.
Letchworth was one of two famous garden city projects in the pre-war early 20th century period (the other was Hampstead). Key figures commissioned to design Letchworth in 1904 on a network of farms near Hitchin were the architect Barry Parker and town planner Raymond Unwin. Both had links to the Arts and Crafts Movement and were influenced by William Morris and John Ruskin. Both Parker and Unwin went on to play key roles in town planning during the 20th century.
The history of the ideas and construction of Britain's First Garden City are explored in-depth in the unmissable First Garden City Heritage Museum in Letchworth housed in a stunning 1907 thatched building designed by Barry Parker. Museum exhibits take a close look at the experiences of people living in Letchworth Garden City through the 20th century and the industries which set up in the town like The Spirella corset factory. Early residents of Letchworth were influenced by Howard's vision and expected to have their voice heard. Many were proponents for full adult suffrage and developed residents' unions in the town. Founder of Letchworth Garden City Ebenezer Howard and the architects who designed Letchworth, Unwin and Parker are all given due attention in museum exhibits. Parker's office, with Arts & Crafts furnishings and paintings is within the museum.
Following a museum visit, the town tour of Letchworth Garden City features spectacular architecture, some Arts & Crafts and some Art Deco. Highlights include the Art Deco Broadway Cinema first opened in 1936, the magnificent Cloisters building dating from 1907 and remodelled in 1950 and the famous Spirella Building built between 1912 to 1920 and now Grade II listed. Find out more about Britain's first Garden City Letchworth via the museum and town website guides.
Historic and beautiful medieval market town Hitchin, within easy reach of Luton Airport, is a popular accommodation base with both business and leisure visitors. Hitchin town centre contains charming independent shops, fine pubs and a huge choice of great restaurants and stylish cafes. The striking central St Mary's Church in Hitchin dates from the 14th and 15th centuries and features breathtaking carvings. Two premier Hitchin theatres offer a packed programme of acclaimed drama and Hitchin's two museums include the national British Schools Museum.
Discover beautiful historic Hitchin traditional coaching inn B&Bs listed here on iknow Home Counties alongside family run Hitchin hotels and Grade listed historic Hitchin hotels. A further choice of character B&Bs and self catering cottages near Hitchin are available in nearby villages including Codicote and Great Offley. Hotels in Letchworth Garden City near Hitchin afford easy access to both Hitchin attractions and the glorious Garden City architecture and First Garden City Museum in Letchworth. Character dedicated conference, weddings and team building venues with on-site accommodation also feature in the Hitchin area within easy reach of the A1 and Luton Airport. Find conference venues in Hitchin including Hitchin Priory listed here on iknow Home Counties.
Attractions around Hitchin alongside the spectacular Garden City architecture at Letchworth include the unique and fascinating Royston Cave. This man-made and mysterious cave is thought to date from the 14th century and is shaped like a beehive. Carvings on the walls of Royston Cave appear to be medieval. The cave is thought to have links with the Knights Templar.
Hitchin station and Letchworth Garden City station both offer direct rail links to London King's Cross via Hartford North station. (First Capital Connect)
Hitchin Town Center contributed by Peter Church and Foot Path contributed by OLU. All photos are copyrighted but licensed for further reuse under the creative commons licence.