Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012 Litany Lane Blog: Aesthetic, Ezekiel 1:2-5,24-28c,Matthew 17,22-27, Saint Hippolytus, St Ippolyts Hitchin England

Monday, August 13, 2012
Aesthetic, Ezekiel 1:2-5,24-28c, Matthew 17,22-27, Saint Hippolytus, St Ippolyts Hitchin UK

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Today's Word:  aesthetic   aes·thet·ic  [es-thet-ik]

Origin:  1815–25;  < Neo-Latin aestheticus  < Greek aisthētikós, 

1.pertaining to a sense of the beautiful or to the science of aesthetics.
2.having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.
3.pertaining to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.

4.a philosophical theory or idea of what is aesthetically  valid at a given time and place: the clean lines, bare surfaces, and sense of space that bespeak the machine-age aesthetic.
5. aesthetics.
6. Archaic . the study of the nature of sensation.


Today's Old Testament Reading - Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28c

2On the fifth of the month -- it was the fifth year of exile for King Jehoiachin
3 the word of Yahweh was addressed to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in Chaldaea by the River Chebar. There the hand of Yahweh came on him.
4 I looked; a stormy wind blew from the north, a great cloud with flashing fire and brilliant light round it, and in the middle, in the heart of the fire, a brilliance like that of amber,
5 and in the middle what seemed to be four living creatures. They looked like this: They were of human form
24 I also heard the noise of their wings; when they moved, it was like the noise of flood-waters, like the voice of Shaddai, like the noise of a storm, like the noise of an armed camp; and when they halted, they lowered their wings;
25 there was a noise too.
26 Beyond the solid surface above their heads, there was what seemed like a sapphire, in the form of a throne. High above on the form of a throne was a form with the appearance of a human being.
27 I saw a brilliance like amber, like fire, radiating from what appeared to be the waist upwards; and from what appeared to be the waist downwards, I saw what looked like fire, giving a brilliant light all round.
28 The radiance of the encircling light was like the radiance of the bow in the clouds on rainy days. The sight was like the glory of Yahweh. I looked and fell to the ground, and I heard the voice of someone speaking to me.


Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 17,22-27

When they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of man is going to be delivered into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised up again.' And a great sadness came over them. When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, 'Does your master not pay the half-shekel?' 'Yes,' he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, 'Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do earthly kings take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?' And when he replied, 'From foreigners,' Jesus said, 'Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so that we shall not be the downfall of others, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that rises, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for yourself.'

• The five verses of today’s Gospel speak about two very different themes between them. (a) The second announcement of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus (Mt 17, 22-23); (b) they inform on the conversation of Jesus with Peter about paying the taxes and the dues to the temple (Mt 17, 24-27).

• Matthew 17, 22-23: The announcement of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The first announcement (Mt 16, 21) had produced a strong reaction on Peter who did not want to know anything about suffering nor the cross. Jesus had answered just as strongly: “Get behind me, Satan!” (Mt 16, 23). Here, in the second announcement, the reaction of the disciples is less strong, less aggressive. The announcement produces sadness. It seems that now they begin to understand that the cross forms part of the journey. The proximity of the death and the suffering weigh heavily on them, giving rise to a great discouragement. Even if Jesus tries to help them, the resistance of centuries against the idea of a crucified Messiah, was much greater.

• Matthew 17 24-25a: The question which the tax collectors ask Peter concerning the taxes. When they reached Capernaum, the tax collector of the taxes of the Temple asks Peter: “Does your Master not pay the half-shekel for the Temple?” Peter answered: “Yes”. From the time of Nehemias (V Century BC), the Jews who had returned from the exile of Babylonia, committed themselves solemnly in the Assembly to pay the diverse taxes and dues in order to allow the Temple to continue to function and to take care of the maintenance both of the priestly service and of the building of the Temple. (Ne 10, 33-40). From what we can see from Peter’s response, Jesus paid the taxes like any other Jew.

• Matthew 17, 25b-26: The question of Jesus to Peter concerning the taxes. The conversation between Jesus and Peter is very strange. When they reach home, Jesus asked: “ Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do earthly kings take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?” Peter responds: “From foreigners”. And Jesus says: “Therefore, the sons are exempt!” Probably, here we can see a discussion between the Christian Jews before the destruction of the Temple, in the year 70. They asked themselves if they had to continue or not to pay the taxes of the Temple, as they did before. By Jesus’ response they discover that they are not obliged to pay this tax: “The sons are exempt!” The sons are the Christians, but even if they are not obliged to pay, the recommendation of Jesus is to pay in order not to cause scandal.

• Matthew 17, 27: The conclusion of the conversation on the paying of the tax. The solution which Jesus gives to this situation is even stranger. He tells Peter: “However, so that we shall not be the downfall of others, go to the lake and cast a hook: take the first fish that rises, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for yourself.” This was a strange miracle, strange like that of the 2000 pigs which threw themselves into the sea (Mk 5, 13). Which ever is the interpretation of this miraculous fact, this way of resolving the problem suggests that it is a question that is not too important for Jesus.

Personal questions
• The suffering of the Cross discourages and saddens the disciples. Has this already happened in your life?
• How do you interpret the episode of the coin found in the mouth of the fish.

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Saint Hippolytus

Feast Day: August 13
Died:  235
Patron Saint of : equestrians

St Hippolytus of Rome 170-235
Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235) was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome, where he was probably born. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca (cod. 121) as a disciple of Irenaeus, who was said to be a disciple of Polycarp, and from the context of this passage it is supposed that he suggested that Hippolytus himself so styled himself. However, this assertion is doubtful. He came into conflict with the popes of his time and seems to have headed a schismatic group as a rival bishop of Rome. For that reason he is sometimes considered the first Antipope. He opposed the Roman bishops who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts. However, he was very probably reconciled to the Church when he died as a martyr. He is the person usually understood to be meant by Saint Hippolytus. Starting in the 4th century, various legends arose about him, identifying him as a priest of the Novatianist Schism or as a soldier converted by Saint Laurence. He has also been confused with another martyr of the same name.


As a presbyter of the church at Rome under Pope Zephyrinus (199–217), Hippolytus was distinguished for his learning and eloquence. It was at this time that Origen of Alexandria, then a young man, heard him preach.

He accused Pope Zephyrinus of modalism, the heresy which held that the names Father and Son are simply different names for the same subject. Hippolytus championed the Logos doctrine of the Greek apologists, most notably Justin Martyr, which distinguished the Father from the Logos ("Word"). An ethical conservative, he was scandalized when Pope Callixtus I (217–222) extended absolution to Christians who had committed grave sins, such as adultery. At this time, he seems to have allowed himself to be elected as a rival Bishop of Rome, and continued to attack Pope Urban I (222–230) and Pope Pontian (230–235).

Under the persecution by Emperor Maximinus Thrax, Hippolytus and Pontian were exiled together in 235 to Sardinia, and it is very probably that, before his death there, he was reconciled to the other party at Rome, for, under Pope Fabian (236–250), his body and that of Pontian were brought to Rome. From the so-called chronography of the year 354 (more precisely, the Catalogus Liberianus, or Liberian Catalogue) we learn that on August 13, probably in 236, the two bodies were interred in Rome, that of Hippolytus in a cemetery on the Via Tiburtina. This document indicates that, by about 255, Hippolytus was considered a Catholic martyr and gives him the rank of a priest, not of a bishop, an indication that before his death the schismatic was received again into the bosom of the Church, or that significant action was taken at least posthumously to ensure no lasting schism between both popes' followers.


The facts of his life as well as his writing were soon forgotten in the West, perhaps by reason of his schismatic activities and because he wrote in Greek. Pope Damasus I dedicated to him one of his famous epigrams, making him, however, a priest of the Novatianist schism, a view later accepted by Prudentius in the 5th century in his "Passion of St Hippolytus". In the Passionals of the 7th and 8th centuries he is represented as a soldier converted by Saint Lawrence, a legend that long survived in the Roman Breviary. He was also confused with a martyr of the same name who was buried in Portus, of which city he was believed to have been a bishop. Prudentius seems to have drawn on the story of the mythological Hippolytus for his description of the death of the saint, picturing him as dragged to death by wild horses at Ostia. He described the subterranean tomb of the saint and states that he saw there a picture representing Hippolytus’ execution. He also confirms August 13 as the date on which Hippolytus was celebrated.

This account led to Hippolytus being considered the patron saint of horses. During the Middle Ages, sick horses were brought to St Ippolyts, Hertfordshire, England, where a church is dedicated to him.


In 1551 a marble statue of a seated figure (originally female, perhaps personifying one of the sciences) was found in the cemetery of the Via Tiburtina and was heavily restored. On the sides of the seat was carved a paschal cycle, and on the back the titles of numerous writings by Hippolytus. Many other works are listed by Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome.

Hippolytus's principal work is the Refutation of all Heresies. Of its ten books, Book I was the most important.[5] It was long known and was printed (with the title Philosophumena) among the works of Origen. Books II and III are lost, and Books IV–X were found, without the name of the author, in a monastery of Mount Athos in 1842. E. Miller published them in 1851 under the title Philosophumena, attributing them to Origen of Alexandria. They have since been attributed to Hippolytus.

Hippolytus's voluminous writings, which for variety of subject can be compared with those of Origen of Alexandria, embrace the spheres of exegesis, homiletics, apologetics and polemic, chronography, and ecclesiastical law. Hippolytus recorded the first liturgical reference to the Virgin Mary, as part of the ordination rite of a bishop. His works have unfortunately come down to us in such a fragmentary condition that it is difficult to obtain from them any very exact notion of his intellectual and literary importance.

Of exegetical works usually attributed to Hippolytus, the best preserved are the Commentary on the Prophet Daniel and the Commentary on the Song of Songs.[2] This is the earliest attested Christian interpretation of the Song, covering only the first three chapters to Song 3:7. Hippolytus' Commentary on the Song of Songs interprets the Song as referring to a complicated relationship between Israel, Christ and the Gentile Church. Christ as the Logos is represented in various richly symbolic ways: as the Feminine Sophia ("Wisdom"), who was God's agent in creation and later lived with Solomon and inspired the prophets, as the transgendered maker of wine (like Dionysus) that nurtures the Church with his breasts (the Law and the Gospel), as the victorious Helios who rides across the sky and gathers the nations. The commentary returns often to the topic of the anointing of the Holy Spirit and was originally written as a mystagogy, an instruction for new Christians. Scholars have usually assumed the Commentary On the Song of Songs was originally composed for use during Passover, a season favored in the West for Baptisms (see Hippolytus' Commentary on Daniel 1.17). The commentary on the Song of Songs survives in two Georgian manuscripts, a Greek epitome, a Paleo-Slavonic florilegium, and fragments in Armenian and Syriac as well as in many patristic quotations, especially in Ambrose of Milan's Exposition on Psalm 118 (119). Hippolytus differed from Origen, who interpreted the Song largely as an allegory of the soul and Christ. Hippolytus, on the other hand, interpreted the Song as a typological treatment of the relationship between the Church of the Circumcision typified by Israel and replaced by the Church composed of both believing Jews and Gentile Christians. Hippolytus interpreted the Song using the common rhetorical device of ekphrasis, a method of persuasion employed by rhetoricians of the Second Sophistic that used well known themes from popular graphic representations common on household walls as murals and on floors as mosaics. He also supplied his commentary with a fully developed introduction known as the schema isagogicum, indicating his knowledge of the rhetorical conventions for teachers discussing classical works. Origen felt that the Song should be reserved for the spiritually mature and that studying it might be harmful for the novice. In this he followed 3rd-century Jewish interpretive traditions, whereas Hippolytus ignored them.

We are unable to form an opinion of Hippolytus as a preacher, for the Homilies on the Feast of Epiphany which go under his name are wrongly attributed to him. Of the dogmatic works, On Christ and the Antichrist survives in a complete state. Among other things it includes a vivid account of the events preceding the end of the world, and it was probably written at the time of the persecution under Septimius Severus, about 202.

The influence of Hippolytus was felt chiefly through his works on chronography and ecclesiastical law. His chronicle of the world, a compilation embracing the whole period from the creation of the world up to the year 234, formed a basis for many chronographical works both in the East and West.

In the great compilations of ecclesiastical law that arose in the East since the 4th century, the Church Orders many canons were attributed to Hippolytus, for example in the Canons of Hippolytus or the The Constitutions through Hippolytus. How much of this material is genuinely his, how much of it worked over, and how much of it wrongly attributed to him, can no longer be determined beyond dispute even by the most learned investigation, however a great deal was incorporated into the Fetha Negest, which once served as the constitutional basis of law in Ethiopia — where he is still remembered as Abulides. During the early 20th century the work known as The Egyptian Church Order was identified as the Apostolic Tradition and attributed to Hippolytus; nowaday this attribution is hotly contested.

Differences in style and theology lead some scholars to conclude that some the works attributed to Hippolytus actually derive from a second author.  Two small but potentially important works of Hippolytus, On the Twelve Apostles of Christ, and On the Seventy Apostles of Christ, were often neglected, because the manuscripts were lost during most of the church age and found late, thus people were not sure if they are original or spurious. The two are included in an appendix to the works of Hippolytus in the voluminous collection of Early Church Fathers.

Feast days

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast day of St Hippolytus falls on August 13, which is also the Apodosis of the Feast of the Transfiguration. Because on the Apodosis the hymns of the Transfiguration are to be repeated, the feast of St. Hippolytus may be transferred to the day before or to some other convenient day. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates the feast of "St Hippolytus Pope of Rome" on January 30, who may or may not be the same individual.

The Roman Catholic Church celebrates St Hippolytus jointly with St Pontian on August 13. The feast of Saint Hippolytus formerly celebrated on 22 August (see General Roman Calendar as in 1954) was a duplicate of the 13 August feast and for that reason was deleted when the Roman Catholic calendar of saints was revised in 1960. Earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology referred to the 22 August Hippolytus as Bishop of Porto, but the Catholic Encyclopedia sees this as "connected with the confusion regarding the Roman presbyter resulting from the Acts of the Martyrs of Porto. It has not been ascertained whether the memory of the latter was localized at Porto merely in connection with the legend in Prudentius, without further foundation, or whether a person named Hippolytus was really martyred at Porto, and afterwards confounded in legend with Hippolytus of Rome." This opinion is shared by a Benedictine source. Earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology also mentioned on 30 January a Hippolytus venerated at Antioch, but the details it gave were borrowed from the story of Hippolytus of Rome. Modern editions of the Roman Martyrology omit all mention of this supposed distinct Saint Hippolytus of Antioch.


  • Courtesyof Wikipedia
  • Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Hippolytus of Rome." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 13 Aug. 2012 <>. 

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Today's Snippets:  St Ippolyts and  Hitchin,  England


St Ippolyts, England
St Ippolyts (or St Ippollitts) is a village and civil parish on the southern edge of Hitchin in Hertfordshire, England. It has a population of approximately 2,000.  St Ippolyts is located in between the A602 (Stevenage Road) and the B656 (Codicote Road), two kilometres south-east of Hitchin, Hertfordshire. It lies approximately 80 metres above sea level in a gap in the Chiltern Hills.  Some features of the village are a 17th-century gabled house, a timber-framed house formerly known as the Olive Branch Inn, and a 16th-century house built around an even older timbered house.


The name of St Ippolyts, although spelled in a variety of ways, is derived from St Hippolytus to whom the village church was dedicated. According to Daphne Rance in her book on the parish "St. Ippolyts: a country parish in the nineteenth century" (1987) at various times also known as Epolites, Pallets, Nipples or St Ibbs. In the same vein, the 1881 census mentions the following 28 place names, all of which are believed to refer to it: Iplits, Ipolits, Ipollitts, Ipollyts, Ipolytes, Ipolyts, Ippatyts, Ipplits, Ipployts, Ipplyts, Ippolett, Ippoletts, Ippolits, Ippolitss, Ippolits, Ippolitss, Ippolitts, Ippollit, Ippollits, Ippollitts, Ippollyts, Ippollytts, Ippololits, Ippolts, Ippolytis, Ippolyts, Ippolytts, Ippoplitts. The church was built in 1087 in a beautiful setting on the hillside above the village.

According to the church records, the building was funded by grants supplied by Judith de Lens, the niece of William the Conqueror. De Lens gave evidence against her husband, a Saxon Earl, which led to his execution. The funding of the church was an attempt to make amends for this act. The church was rebuilt in the mid nineteenth century using old materials 'recycled' from the nearby abandoned Minsden Chapel. Apart from St Ippolyts, the church also serves the nearby villages of Gosmore and Langley. The noted theologian Fenton John Anthony Hort (Fenton Hort) is amongst the former vicars of St Ippolyts church where he stayed for 15 years before taking up a fellowship and lectureship at Emmanuel College in Cambridge . Politician George Lloyd, 1st Baron Lloyd (1879-1941) was buried in the churchyard.


Hitchin, England UK

Hitchin Market Place
Hitchin is a market town in Hertfordshire, England, with an estimated population of 30,360. Hitchin is a medieval market town about 50 km north of London, which has retained much of its historic character, despite enormous growth since the 1850s. It is noted for its specialist shops, the largest parish church in Hertfordshire and its attractive streets. Known to have existed since at least the eighth century AD, it is one of the oldest towns in the county. Markets and Fairs have been held in England since Saxon times, to provide a means of barter and trade. Markets were originally for localised trading, while Fairs were for larger scale commerce. Both markets and fairs existed side by side from the very earliest days of exchanging goods and services. They provided outlets to the local craftsmen, to travelling chapman or pedlars, and to householders and small farmers, where beasts and surplus products could be sold and purchased. The distance a person could walk in a day, to and from the market, determined how far the early early market towns of 12th century England were from each other. The more perishable items sold in the market, such as vegetables, dairy products and fruit, were not carried great distances because of the primitive travelling conditions: livestock, grain and wool, on the other hand, were goods that would travel great distances without deteriorating, and therefore probably came from much further afield. There was also products of the local Hitchin craftsmen — tanners, weavers, smiths, shoemakers, tailors — nearly all of which were made locally and sold for use within an area surrounding the town.


Hitchin is first noted as the central place of the Hicce people mentioned in a 7th century document, the Tribal Hidage. The tribal name is Brittonic rather than Old English and derives from *siccā, meaning 'dry', which is perhaps a reference to the local stream, the Hiz. It has been suggested that Hitchin was the location of Clofeshoh, the place chosen in 673 by Archbishop Theodore of Tarsus during the Synod of Hertford, the first nationwide meeting of representatives of the fledgling Catholic churches of Anglo-Saxon England, to hold annual synods of the churches as Theodore attempted to consolidate and centralise Catholicism in England. By 1086 Hitchin is described as a Royal Manor in the Domesday Book: the feudal services of Avera and Inward, usually found in the eastern counties, especially Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, were due from the sokemen, but the manor of Hitchin was unique in levying Inward. Evidence has been found to suggest that the town was once provided with an earthen bank and ditch fortification, probably in the early tenth century but this did not last. The modern spelling 'Hitchin' first appears in 1618 in the "Hertfordshire Feet of Fines".

During the medieval period, both a priory (Newbigging, now known as The Biggin) and a friary (now known as Hitchin Priory) were established, both of which closed during Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. They were never reformed, although The Biggin was for many years used as almshouses.

It is locally reputed that Henry VIII nearly died in a fire in Hitchin. It is also alleged that Henry VIII, when he was fitter, thought he was able to pole vault over the local river, the River Hiz. However, he had grown somewhat fatter than he knew, and the pole snapped from underneath him. He fell into the river, much to the amusement of his servants. This event is commemorated on the sign of the Buck's Head [1] pub in nearby Little Wymondley. Whatever the truth of this story, it is known however that Henry VIII did hunt in the area around Hitchin and practised archery on Butts Close.

The name of the town also is associated with the small river that runs through the town, most picturesquely in front of the east end of St. Mary's Church, the town's parish church. The river is noted on maps as the River Hiz. Contrary to how most people now pronounce the name, that is to say phonetically, the 'z' was an abbreviated character for a 'tch' sound, as in the name of the town. It would have been pronounced 'River Hitch'.

Hitchin is notable for St. Mary’s Church, which is remarkably large for a town of its size. The size of the church is evidence of how Hitchin prospered from the wool trade. It is the largest parish church in Hertfordshire. Most of the church dates from the 15th century, with its tower dating from around 1190. During the laying of a new floor in the church in 1911, foundations of a more ancient church building were found. In form, they appear to be a basilican church of a 7th century type, with a later enlarged chancel and transepts, perhaps added in the 10th century. This makes the church older than the story (not recorded before the 15th century) that the church was founded by Offa, king of Mercia 757-796.
In 1697, Hitchin (and the nearby village of Offley) were subject to what is thought to have been the most severe hailstorm in recorded British history. Hailstones over 4 inches in diameter were reported

By the 16th century Hitchin was becoming famous as a grain market, particularly for corn, which had been sold here, even then, for over 300 years. Malting and brewing, the two main by-products of a grain market, were also increasing locally. Queen Elizabeth I acknowledged the importance of Hitchin grain when, after listening to a Spanish Nobleman expounding the qualities of his country’s vineyards, she replied, “My Hitchin grapes surpass them or those of any country”.’ By the 16th century Hitchin’s corn, barley, wheat, malt and livestock were purchased by wholesalers for reselling in the London markets for profit.

The town flourished on the wool trade, and located near the Icknield Way and by the 17th century Hitchin was a staging post for coaches coming from London. By the middle of the 19th century the railway had arrived, and with it a new way of life for Hitchin. The corn exchange was built in the market place and within a short time Hitchin established itself as a major centre for grain trading.

In the 19th century strong commercial interests and a developing straw plait market compelled the consideration of Saturday as a second Market day. By 1829 Hitchin’s Bell House was removed and the Church bells were rung to indicate the start of business. The Saturday market which now developed was more and more concerned with retail trading and commercial interests, while the Tuesday market continued to be essentially concerned with farming and agriculture.

Icknield Way

The Icknield Way is an ancient trackway in southern England. It follows the chalk escarpment that includes the Berkshire Downs and Chiltern Hills  It is generally said to be one of the oldest roads in Great Britain, being one of the few long-distance trackways to have existed before the Romans occupied the country, of which the route can still be traced. However, this has been disputed, and the evidence for it being a prehistoric route has been questioned.

The name is Celto-British in derivation, and may be named after the Iceni tribe, who may have established this route to permit trade with other parts of the country from their base in East Anglia. It has also been suggested that the road has older prehistoric origins. However, the name is also said to have been initially used for the part to the west and south (i.e. south of the River Thames) but now refers usually to the track or traces north of the Thames. From ancient times, at least early as the Iron Age period (before the Roman invasion of 43 AD) and through Anglo-Saxon times, it stretched from Berkshire through Oxfordshire and crossed the River Thames at Cholsey, near Wallingford.

Today, Crossing six counties, the Icknield Way Trail is a 170 mile (274 km) route linking the Peddars Way National Trail in Suffolk with the Ridgeway National Trail in Buckinghamshire, which in turn links with the Wessex Ridgeway. The Icknield Way Trail passes along an ancient chalk ridge but there is a variety of landscapes to view including flat fenland and rolling chalk downland, as well as picturesque villages and ancient beech woodland. The Icknield Way has been a recognised regional route for walkers since 1992.  In 2004 it was further developed into a multi-use route so that most of the route is also available for horse riders and off-road cyclists providing a complete walking and riding link between the two National Trails.

Culture and community

Hitchin is the venue for the annual Rhythms of the World festival. Now in its twentieth year, over 140 acts performed in 2011, with acts from India, Cuba, Australia, Congo, China, Senegal, Singapore and Germany taking part. Once the largest free festival of world music in Europe, an entry fee has been charged since 2008. It is part of the three week Hitchin Festival which includes picnics, concerts, theatre, ghost walks, art exhibitions, comedy club, summer fetes and fireworks.

There are a number of organisations for young people, including air, army and sea cadets and various scouting groups. Hitchin is home to the world’s only known complete Lancasterian Schoolroom, which was built in 1837 to teach boys by the Lancasterian method (peer tutoring).

Hitchin is twinned with:
  • Flag of France.svg Nuits-St-Georges, France
  • Flag of Germany.svg Bingen am Rhein, Germany


There are several primary schools in Hitchin. Secondary education is provided at Hitchin Girls' School, Hitchin Boys' School and the Priory School. There is a campus of the North Hertfordshire College in Hitchin, and it is also the home of the Benslow Music Trust which provides music education for adults.

Hitchin Museum and Art Gallery has an extensive collection that tells the story of the town’s social history and of the rural industries that contributed to its prosperity. The British Schools Museum is housed in original Edwardian and Victorian school buildings.

British Schools Museum

British Schools Museum, Hitchin UK
The British Schools Museum is an educational museum based in original Edwardian and Victorian school buildings in Hitchin in Hertfordshire, England. The museum complex is made up of Grade II listed school buildings housing infants, girls and boys schools with houses for Master and Mistress. It includes a monitorial schoolroom based on the educational theories of Joseph Lancaster for 300 boys, which opened in 1837, and a rare galleried classroom, dating from 1853.

History of the school

The first school on the site was a schoolroom for 200 boys and 100 girls. It was founded in 1810 by local lawyer William Wilshere in a disused malthouse. This schoolroom was the first monitorial school for the sons of the poor in Hertfordshire. Teaching was based on Joseph Lancaster's methods of monitorial teaching. He developed a system in which large numbers of younger scholars could be taught by older scholars under the supervision of the master (for boys) or mistress (for girls). This method continued until the Revised Code of 1862 that brought in the Pupil Teacher method of teaching. The monitorial system was changed as it was the general consensus that having children teach other children, when they are not well educated themselves, proved to be problematic. The Pupil Teacher method involved an older scholar being given training and being paid to teach. The government hoped that this would increase the number of teachers in the future, using a system that could be described as an apprenticeship in teaching.

The school grew steadily and to such an extent that in 1837 a new schoolroom was built that could hold 300 boys. This was completed in 1838, and the original school in the converted malthouse then included an infants school as well as the girls'. HM Inspector of Schools Matthew Arnold visited the school in 1852 and reinforced the 1849 recommendation of inspector J D Morrell that the boys' school would benefit from a new classroom. A new Gallery classroom for 110 pupils was completed in February 1854.

In 1857, it was decided by the School's Board of Trustees to completely rebuild the Girls' and Infants' School. The new building was completed in 1858 together with adjoining houses for the Master and Mistress. When Matthew Arnold paid a return visit to the school in 1867 he reported that the new buildings were "excellent".

By 1904 additional classrooms were needed because of the growing number of pupils, and these were built in 1905, but by 1929 the school was too small (and quite worn out!) and the Boys' and Girls Schools transferred to the new Wilshere Dacre School in the town. The Infants School carried on in the original buildings, but because of the number of evacuees who were sent to Hitchin at the outbreak of World War II the school reverted to a Junior Mixed Infants School in 1940. This school continued on the site until 1969, when it closed, but the buildings were taken over by North Hertfordshire College as the Queen Street Activities Centre.

Recent years

The buildings were listed as Grade II in 1975 for their importance as a site of historic school architecture. Mrs Jill Grey, a local educational historian, opened a small museum in one of the Edwardian classrooms. In July 1990 North Herts College left the site and Hertfordshire County Council put the buildings up for sale. The Hitchin British Schools Trust was formed and by 1994 were successful in purchasing the buildings. The Trust, mainly through the efforts of volunteers, has restored the schoolrooms to reflect their original condition, and work continues to improve them. The museum is visited by adults and groups of children from all over the country who are interested in seeing how their ancestors were taught.

The BBC filmed the 2010 children's television series Just William at Hitchin.


  • Rance, Daphne (1987). St. Ippolyts: a country parish in the nineteenth century. Egon Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-905858-38-7.
  • Rance, Daphne (1996). The Yeomen of Ippolyts. Cortney Publications. ISBN 0-904378-48-9.
  • St. Ippolyts Church.
  • Fitzpatrick-Matthews, K J & Fitzpatrick-Matthews T 2008 The Archaeology of Hitchin from Prehistory to the Present North Hertfordshire District Council Museums & Hitchin Historical Society.
  • The Ickniel Way Trail. 
  • Fiona Dodwell. Hitchin British Schools: A History of the Buildings. Published by Hitchin British Schools Trust 1999.
  • Jacky Birch, Scilla Douglas, Pauline Humphries, Elizabeth Hunter, Rosemary Ransome, Terry Ransome. "Educating Our Own: the Masters of the Hitchin Boys British Schools 1810 - 1929". Published by the Hitchin British Schools Trust 2008.