West end of the High Street, 2007
|Population||8,151 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Dorset and Wiltshire|
Highworth is a market town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England, about 6 miles (10 km) northeast of Swindon town centre. The 2011 Census recorded a population of 8,151. The town is notable for its Queen Anne and Georgian buildings, dating from its pre-eminence in the 18th century. It also has a magnificent 13th century church, St. Michael's.
Highworth is on a hill in a strategic position above the Upper Thames Valley, and seems to have been occupied almost continuously for 7,000 years. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'Wrde', which derives from the Old English word 'worth' meaning enclosure. The prefix 'High', owing to it being situated on a hill, was not added until around 1200 AD. 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.
The parish includes Sevenhampton village and the hamlets of Hampton and Redlands.
Highworth is the most north-easterly town in Wiltshire, near the border with Oxfordshire.
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 Street and the A361 Swindon Road. The centre of the old town, with many fine Georgian and Queen Anne houses, has been a conservation area since 1976.
Highworth was the terminus of a Great Western Railway branch line from Swindon, the Highworth branch line, which was closed to passengers in 1953 and to goods in 1962. Nowadays, the nearest station is at Swindon, 5 1⁄2 miles (9 km) to the southwest. The Great Western main line passes through open countryside around 3 miles south of the town, en route to Reading and London.
The A361 road forms a north-south route through Highworth, while the B4019 is on an east-west axis passing through the suburb of Hampton.
Highworth Warneford School is a secondary school on Shrivenham Road, neighbouring with Southfield Junior School, Eastrop Infant School, and Vorda Pre-School.
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 Cricket Club are in the Wiltshire County Cricket League and South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Village League (Sundays). The club play at the Elms Recreation Ground.
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 the Second World War, 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.
- William Joscelyn Arkell, geologist and palaeontologist
- Eric Buller MC (1894–1973), British Army officer and cricketer
- William Goudge (1877–1967), cricketer
- Joseph Knight (1896–1974), cricketer
- Narcissus Marsh, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
- Helen Shapiro, singer
- Samuel Wilson Warneford, philanthropist
- 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. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- Highworth previous names
- Highworth Market
- English civil war Highworth
- "Highworth population info". Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
- Highworth Historical Society website
- "About Us". Highworth Community Partnership Group.
- "Highworth Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan" (PDF). Swindon Borough Council. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- Historic England. "The Old Manor House (1355951)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- Oakley, Mike (2004). Wiltshire Railway Stations. Wimborne: The Dovecote Press. pp. 65–67. ISBN 1-904349-33-1.
- "Welcome – St Michael and All Angels". St Michael and All Angels, Highworth. Archived from the original on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- "About Us". Highworth Community Church. Archived from the original on 12 February 2013.
- "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
- Highworth at Curlie
- Highworth Town Council
- Historic Highworth photos at BBC Wiltshire
- History of Highworth at Highworth Historical Society