River Hiz

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The river in Hitchin

The River Hiz is a small tributary river that feeds the River Ivel that, in turn, feeds the Great Ouse.

Starting at its source of a chalk fed spring just south of the village of Charlton, Hertfordshire, the river winds its way through Hertfordshire, moving its way into and through Hitchin, where it meets the River Oughton and River Purwell. The Hiz finally meets the River Ivel near the village of Henlow.

The Hiz is properly pronounced "Hitch", though that pronunciation has been lost in recent ages. The main town on its banks accordingly is Hitchin, which takes its name from the Hicca folk of the early Anglo-Saxon period, who are recorded as the local people in the Mercian book known as the Tribal Hidage. Whether the name of the river is derived from the town, or the ancient folc or is unrelated is a matter yet debated locally.

The Hiz is a focal point in the town of Hitchin, with a market that takes place historically by its banks. The Hiz also runs past a major brickworks, now closed, at Arlesey.

The Hiz at Caldwell

Although small, the Hiz attracts a great deal of wildlife. There are many birds around this area, which include swans, ducks, coot and kingfishers. Fish inhabits the river (trout mainly) and there is also evidence for otters.

King Henry VIII is said to have fallen from his horse into the River Hiz on one occasion. Another verion of the tale is that he attempted to vault over the river only for the pole to snap beneath him. Whatever the truth of it, if any, the event is commemorated on the sign of the Buck's Head pub in Little Wymondley. It is known that King Henry did hunt in the area around Hitchin and practised archery on Butts Close.