West end of the High St, 2007
Highworth shown within Wiltshire
|Population||8,151 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||Borough of Swindon|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Highworth is a market town in Wiltshire, England, about 6 miles (10 km) northeast of Swindon town centre. The 2011 Census recorded a population of 8,151. It is often described as the "gateway to the Cotswolds" but only on the recently erected signs, and is notable for its Queen Anne Style architecture and Georgian buildings dating from its pre-eminence in the 18th century.
Highworth is on a hill in a strategic position above the Upper Thames valley, and seems to have been occupied almost continuously for 4,000 years. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'Wrde'. On John Speed's map of Wiltshire (1611), the name is spelt both Highwoth (for the hundred) and Hiworth (for the town itself). In 1206 it was granted a charter for its market, which is still held weekly. The origins and layout of Highworth are medieval.
Highworth was a Royalist stronghold in the English Civil War, but on 17 June 1645 Sir Thomas Fairfax captured it and Parliamentarian troops garrisoned it until October the next year. The occupation coincided with a severe outbreak of plague. Traders moved their business to Swindon, and Highworth market did not recover until the end of the 17th century. Highworth benefited from the economic boom in the Napoleonic Wars and Industrial Revolution, and many of the houses in the town centre date from this time. From 1894 to 1974 there was a Highworth Rural District but the town is now part of Swindon unitary authority. Highworth was once larger than neighbouring Swindon, when Highworth's population exceeded 12,000.
Highworth is on a hill above the Upper Thames Valley, and at 436 ft (133 m) above sea level it is the highest town in Wiltshire. Swanborough and Hampton are two hamlets west-southwest of Highworth, which are separated from the town's built-up area by the local cemetery, farmland and a few small copses, less than 1 km (0.62 mi) out on the B4019 to Broad Blunsdon.
Many residents work at the Honda car factory between Highworth and Swindon. Highworth is a typical small market town with a variety of small shops; tourists use it as a base for the surrounding Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Culture and community
The Church of England parish church of St Michael (see below) is at the centre of the town, at the corner of the High St and the A361 Swindon Road. The centre of the old town is a conservation area, with many fine Georgian and Queen Anne houses.
Highworth Warneford School is a secondary school on Shrivenham Road.
The Church of England parish church is dedicated to St Michael and All Angels. The parish includes the churches of St James, Sevenhampton and St John the Baptist, Inglesham. The Highworth Community Church was founded more than 30 years ago and is based in the Community Centre.
Two Methodist chapels were built in 1838 and 1842. The first one proved too small so a new one was built on The Elms in 1856. In 1964 the two congregations combined to build a larger chapel on the current site. This church was in turn enlarged in 1992.
Highworth was first recorded as a post town in 1673. From 1835 to 1839 there was a Penny Post between Highworth and Cold Harbour, a village on the Swindon – Cirencester road near Broad Blunsdon. Mrs Mabel Stranks, who was postmistress here in World War II, was a key contact for members of the Auxiliary Units, a resistance organisation. A memorial plaque on the wall of the former post office records her contribution.
- Samuel Lewis Spencer (1988-present), guitarist and song writer of Pre-Infection
- William Joscelyn Arkell, geologist and palaeontologist
- Eric Buller MC (1894–1973), British Army officer and cricketer
- Melinda Messenger, model
- Narcissus Marsh, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
- Helen Shapiro, singer
- Alfred Williams (1877–1930), "The Hammerman Poet" of South Marston
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Highworth.|
- "Area: Highworth (Parish)". Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- Highworth previous names
- Highworth Market
- English civil war Highworth
- Highworth population info
- Highworth Historical Society website
- "About Us". Highworth Community Partnership Group.
- "Welcome – St Michael and All Angels". St Michael and All Angels, Highworth.
- "About Us". Highworth Community Church.
- "History". Highworth Methodist Church.
- Siggers, Dr John (1982). Wiltshire and its Postmarks. Devizes: Sandcliff Press. p. 309. ISBN 0-9507685-0-2.
- Hitler's Britain, Channel 5, 3 July 2003