In 792 AD, King Offa founded a Benedictine community on land belonging to a tribe called the Hicce. The town of Hitchin developed around the church and came to prosper from the wool trade. Elizabethan poet and playwright George Chapman, one of Shakespeare's rivals, came from Hitchin.
Today, Hitchin in Hertfordshire remains a busy market town, with a population of around 30,000. The nearest large towns are Stevenage and Luton, which are both around 10 miles to the south.
Hitchin is famous for its lavender. Much of its medieval street plan and many historic buildings remain intact, but there is still room for two theatres, The Queen Mother and The Market, as well as a variety of restaurants, pubs and clubs. The open-air market has operated in Hitchin for over 500 years and is the largest in the Home Counties.