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St Mary's Church

The church we see today dates mainly from the 15th century. It is remarkably large for a small town, reflecting the wealth of the medieval wool trade (evidenced by the arms of the Staple of Calais on the south wall). The tower dates from around 1190, the previous tower probably being destroyed in the hurricane of 1115. Roman bricks have been re-used in its building.

Excavations show that the church was greatly enlarged in the 10th century, possibly following fires in 910 (thought to be due to Danish raids).

The original church was reputed to have been founded in 792 by King Offa, who is said to have founded a monastery in Hitchin. The interior of the church is both beautiful and fascinating. There's a 15th century font, superb stained glass windows and many other features of historical significance. The church grounds extend beyond the great east window to the river. The grassy area by the riverside is a popular place to watch the bustle of the market and feed the huge number of ducks!
Through a gate nearby you can walk round the Garden of Rest (an ancient burial ground) which is within the church cloister.

From here, you can go to the Market Place,
or to Queen Street, or through an alleyway that follows the course of the river to Hermitage Road.

Last Modified: Friday, 3rd December, 2004 By
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