Highworth

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Highworth is a market town in the unitary authority of Swindon 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 notable for its Queen Anne Style architecture and Georgian buildings dating from its pre-eminence in the 18th century. It is a gateway town to the Cotswolds AONB, and close to the National Trust landscape property of The Buscot and Coleshill Estates. The Bronze Age Uffington White Horse, in the care of English Heritage and the National Trust, is ten miles south-east by road. Close by is Wayland’s Smithy, in the care of English Heritage.

The centre of Highworth is a conservation area.

Highworth is mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Wrde’. During the English Civil War, when Charles I fought against Parliament, Highworth was a royalist stronghold. From 1894 to 1974 there was a Highworth Rural District. In 2006 the town celebrated the 800th anniversary of the granting of the charter for its market, which is still held every Saturday. Highworth, with a population of over 12,000, was formerly larger than neighbouring Swindon. The origins and layout of Highworth are medieval. The centre of the old town has been designated as a conservation area. On John Speed’s map of Wiltshire (1611), the name is spelt both Highwoth (for the hundred) and Hiworth (for the town itself). 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.

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