A Flavour of Historic Highworth – the Highworth Hotel, the Ice House and more.
Beloved by Betjeman
Amongst a few complimentary things Betjeman had to say about Highworth there was this:
“There was a sound of tea being cleared away in a cottage just near us.
And suddenly with a burst the bells of Highworth church rang out for Evening Service.
As though called by bells the late sun burst out and bathed the varied roofs with gold and scooped itself into the uneven panes of old windows.
Sun and stone and old brick and garden flowers and church bells. That was Sunday evening in Highworth – that was England.”
(‘Postscript from Highworth’ in ‘First and Last Loves’ – John Betjeman, 1952)
Highworth Historical Society
Now I’m clearly no expert on the place, I’ll leave that Mastermind position to the Highworth Historical Society, but I think it’s fair to say that it hasn’t changed sooooo much since Betjemen wrote those words back at the beginning of the 1950s.
It really is very charming!
There’s no point me going on in detail about the place in this post as it’s already been done and by better folk than me – as above and in the wonderful glossy booklet the ‘Highworth Town Trail’. A bargain at £2.50, this glossy, full-colour brochure is stuffed with photographs and fascinating information.
Ice House and More
Along with discovering the Betjemen connection I was very excited by the ice-house. I had no idea this existed and it’s amazing – it made me think of a 17th/18th century Disneyworld with the interconnecting, underground passages for the servants of the house to scurry around in and pop up where needed. All without guests enjoying the garden having to do anything so dreadful as see them at work.
Just like Mickey Mouse and the Disney Princesses then.
St. Michael and All Angels church is delightful (which, like everything, is beautifully described in the Highworth Town Trail) and I loved the cannon-ball. How cool is that? To have a Civil-War cannonball indentation in the wall of the church and the actual cannon-ball hanging inside the church? Wonderful stuff.
This cobbled entrance to an alleyway where there is a heart-shape marked out in cobbles intrigued me. By whom and why? All part of the rich tapestry that is this lovely little town.