1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hitchin
HITCHIN, a market town in the Hitchin parliamentary division of Hertfordshire, England, on the small river Hiz, 32 m. N. from London by the Great Northern railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 10,072. It is the junction of the main line with the Cambridge branch, and with a branch of the Midland railway to Bedford. The church of St Mary is Perpendicular, with a fine porch, a painting of the Adoration of the Magi, attributed to Rubens, a small crypt said to have been used by Cromwell as a prison for the Royalists, and many interesting monuments. Hitchin Priory is a mansion on the site of a Carmelite foundation of the early 14th century. A Gilbertine nunnery, founded later in the same century, stood adjacent to the church, and portions of the buildings appear in an existing block of almshouses. The grammar school (1632) was reconstituted in 1889 for boys and girls. Straw-plaiting, malting, brewing, and the cultivation and distillation of lavender and peppermint are carried on.