Hitchin in 1838
Hitchin is in Hitchin and Pirton hundred, 34 miles from London, on the little river Hiz. The parish comprehends 6,150 acres, and had in 1831 a population of 5,211, about one-third agricultural.
The town, which consists of several streets, is irregularly laid out. It was formerly the seat of a woollen manufacture : the principal trade is now in corn and malt, of which latter a considerable quantity is made. Much straw-plat is made ; there are some breweries, and also a silk-mill.
The church is a handsome edifice near the centre of the town, built upon the foundations of a more ancient structure. The south porch is a remarkably fine specimen of Gothic architecture in the perpendicular style, and there is a font of the same character ; also numerous sepulchral monuments and brasses. There are meeting-houses for Independents, Baptists, and Quakers; and several sets of almshouses.
The town is divided into three wards, for each of which constables and other officers are elected at a court-leet. There was formerly a small priory for Carmelite monks, and one for Gilbertine nuns. The market is on Tuesday, and there are three yearly fairs.
The living is a vicarage in the deanery of Hitchin, the archdeaconry of Huntingdon, and the diocese of Lincoln, of the yearly value of £650, with a glebe-house. There are the ruins of a chapel at Langley, in the parish of Hitchin, three miles from the town.
There were in 1833 one infant school with 50 children, two endowed day-schools with 36 boys and as many girls, two Lancasterian schools with 171 boys and 100 girls, a school partly supported by subscription with 25 children, and five day or boarding and day-schools with 127 children, and four Sunday-schools with 581 children.