Highworth is a market town and civil parish in the Borough of Swindon,[2] England, about 6 miles (10 km) northeast of Swindon town centre. The 2011 Census recorded a population of 8,151.[3] The town is notable for its Queen Anne and Georgian buildings, dating from its pre-eminence in the 18th century. It also has a 13th-century church, St. Michael's.


West end of the High Street, 2007
Location within Wiltshire
Population8,258 (2021 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceSU200925
Civil parish
  • Highworth
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSwindon
Postcode districtSN6
Dialling code01793
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
WebsiteTown Council
High Street on a winter's day


The root High references the geography of the town, as it sits on a hill above the Upper Thames Valley. The suffix -worth is derived from the Gothic 𐍅𐌰𐍂, which is transliterated as warō in Old English and as worth in Middle English.[lower-alpha 1] It means "those that care for, watch, guard, protect, or defend".


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.[4] It is mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'Wrde',[5] which derives from the Old English word 'worth' meaning enclosure.[6] The prefix 'High', owing to it being situated on a hill, was not added until around 1200 AD.[6] 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.[7] The origins and layout of Highworth are medieval.

Highworth was a Royalist stronghold in the English Civil War,[8] 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.[9]


Highworth is on a hill above the Upper Thames Valley, and at 436 ft (133 m) above sea level it is the highest town in Wiltshire.[10]

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.

The town is 39 miles (63 km) north-northeast of Salisbury, the same distance east-northeast of Bristol, 6 miles (10 km) northeast of Swindon and 69 miles (109 km) west of London.

Culture and community

The town is twinned with Pontorson in Normandy and Wassenberg in Germany. Highworth Community Centre opened in the former Northview Primary School in June 2011.[11]


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.[12]

The Old Manor House in the High Street, parts of which date back to the late 15th century, is a Grade II* listed building.[13]


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.[14] Nowadays, the nearest station is at Swindon, 5+12 miles (9 km) to the southwest.[15] 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. Southfield Junior School borders it, and Eastrop Infant School is nearby.


St Michael's Parish Church in winter

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.[16] The Highworth Community Church was founded more than 30 years ago and is based in the Community Centre.[17]

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.[18]


Highworth Town F.C. is a Non-League football club that plays at the Elms Recreation Ground.

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.

Public services

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.[19] 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.[20] A memorial plaque on the wall of the former post office records her contribution.

Notable people

Rail tour at Highworth in 1954
  • 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


  1. The letter ð - called ðæt in Old English - became th in Middle English.


  1. "Highworth". City population. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  2. "Map of neighbourhood areas in Swindon | Swindon Borough Council".
  3. "Area: Highworth (Parish)". Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  4. "Historical Highworth" (PDF). Highworth Town Council. May 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 June 2017.
  5. Highworth previous names
  6. Arkell, William Joscelyn. "Place-Names and Topography in the Upper Thames Country: a Regional Essay" (PDF). Oxoniensia. 7: 1–23.
  7. Highworth Market
  8. English civil war Highworth
  9. "Highworth population info". Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  10. Highworth Historical Society website
  11. "About Us". Highworth Community Partnership Group.
  12. "Highworth Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan" (PDF). Swindon Borough Council. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  13. Historic England. "The Old Manor House (1355951)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  14. Oakley, Mike (2004). Wiltshire Railway Stations. Wimborne: The Dovecote Press. pp. 65–67. ISBN 1-904349-33-1.
  15. https://distancecalculator.globefeed.com/UK_Distance_Result.asp?fromplace=Highworth%2C%20Swindon%2C%20UK&toplace=Swindon%20Rail%20Station%2C%20Station%20Road%2C%20Swindon%2C%20UK&dt1=ChIJL2sRgWFIcUgRX57mMv8AmcI&dt2=ChIJm4HuYThEcUgRZ71moZ1hlTw
  16. "Welcome – St Michael and All Angels". St Michael and All Angels, Highworth. Archived from the original on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  17. "About Us". Highworth Community Church. Archived from the original on 12 February 2013.
  18. "History". Highworth Methodist Church.
  19. Siggers, Dr John (1982). Wiltshire and its Postmarks. Devizes: Sandcliff Press. p. 309. ISBN 0-9507685-0-2.
  20. Hitler's Britain, Channel 5, 3 July 2003
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