West end of the High St, 2007
Highworth shown within Wiltshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||North Swindon|
Highworth is a market town in Wiltshire, England, located about 6 miles (9.7 km) north-east of Swindon town centre. At the 2001 census it had a population of 7,996. 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 stands on a hill which occupies a strategic position above the Upper Thames valley, and appears to have been occupied nearly continuously for 4000 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 during the English Civil War, when Charles I fought against Parliament. It was captured by Sir Thomas Fairfax on 17 June 1645 and garrisoned by Parliamentary troops until October the following year. Aside from the direct effects of war, 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 during 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 now forms part of the unitary authority of Swindon. Highworth was once larger than neighbouring Swindon, when Highworth's population exceeded 12,000.
Highworth stands 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 WSW of Highworth, which are separated from the main Highworth 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.
The population in the 2001 census was 7,996.
Many residents work at the Honda car factory between Highworth and Swindon. Highworth itself 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 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 has been designated as a conservation area, with many fine Georgian and Queen Anne houses.
Highworth Warneford School is a secondary school situated on Shrivenham Road.
The parish church is dedicated to St Michael and All Angels. The parish also has churches in Sevenhampton (St James') and Inglesham (St John the Baptist). The Highworth Community Church was founded over 30 years ago and is based in the Community Centre.
Two Methodist chapels were built in 1838 and 1842, but the first one proved too small so a new one was built on The Elms in 1856. In 1964 the two groups came together to build a bigger chapel on the current site, which had to be enlarged further 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 to Cirencester road near Broad Blunsdon. Mrs. Mabel Stranks, who was postmistress here during World War II, was a key reference point for members of the Auxiliary Units, a resistance organisation. A memorial plaque on the wall of the former post office records her contribution.
- William Joscelyn Arkell, geologist and palaeontologist
- Eric Buller M.C. (1894–1973), British Army officer and cricketer
- Narcissus Marsh, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
- Melinda Messenger, model
- Helen Shapiro, singer
- Alfred Williams (1877–1930), "The Hammerman Poet" of South Marston
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Highworth.|
- "Census 2001 Key Statistics – Urban areas in England and Wales KS01 Usual resident population". Office for National Statistics.
- 2001 census statistics
- 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, p. 309, Devizes, Wiltshire: Sandcliff Press, ISBN 0-9507685-0-2
- "Hitler's Britain", Channel 5, 3 July 2003