Town & Manor of Hungerford News: July/August 2020

Hungerford Town & Manor

July has been an interesting month for The Town and Manor. Much has been good – the river, its otters and the Wednesday market are all thriving and we’re delighted that we’ve been able slowly and carefully to start re-opening the Town Hall. 

Less good is the continued spate of littering and damage on the Common and the Marsh. We mentioned this last month and I’m afraid the problem hasn’t gone away. So, let’s get the bad news out of the way first…

Littering and vandalism

Sadly the increased use of the Common has, as already been reported here and elsewhere, resulted in an increase in the volume of litter left on the Common and Marsh.

On the last two days of June, one of our volunteers gathered five full bin bags and two boxes of rubbish. These included including items with sharp edges, single-use containers, the remains of two campfires and over a dozen broken bottles.

He also found an area of broken glass that appears to have been smashed deliberately, we have already had two cows with cuts or abscesses on their hooves, which leads to costly treatment.

I’m afraid to report that the problem has if anything got worse and even seems to have turned spiteful: broken bottles, for instance, were recently discovered deliberately placed in the cattle crush to inflict injuries on the cows. Also some of our new signs been stolen and fences and gates have been vandalised.

We all know this is an ignorant minority who probably don’t even read this newsletter. The sad reality is that every penny we waste putting these problems right means less money available to support local worthwhile causes. Ultimately, because of the behaviour of a few thoughtless individuals, the whole town loses out, which is very sad.

See below for what the Common should look like…

The Wednesday market continues

We would like to thank all the customers who have supported the market during lockdown. All research appears to suggest that transmission of viruses is a lot less likely to happen outdoors rather than in, so you should be able to continue to shop here with confidence. We will no longer be marshalling it and would ask people to follow the usual guidelines to keep everyone safe. Once again, a huge thank you to the stall holders who have kept it going with such good grace and cheerfulness.

Starting in August, we have managed to get a closure on the bus and taxi lane on Market days and this will help the social distancing for those queuing for fish, plants and coffee. With so many new stall holders this is a great improvement. All buses will pick up and drop off in Church Street, by the library.

A reminder that this event happens every Wednesday from 8am until about 1pm. Our regular stallholders provide plants, fruit, vegetables, bread, cakes, cheese, eggs, apple juice, cooking oil, meat (including goat), olives and (before 11.30am) fish. (Note that on some occasions not all stallholders will be present but in general they’re all there every week.) 

Parking on in the High Street

Please observe the ‘No Parking after midnight’ signs put up on Tuesday afternoons in some bays on the Town Hall side of the High Street.

Some traders set up very early in the morning but can’t do this if vehicles are parked there. 

The Town Hall

We finally managed to get some events back on in The Town Hall complex, with the return of the Flea and Antiques Market, a visit from the Blood Donors and the reopening of the indoor market on Wednesdays. We are the largest non-religious venue in West Berkshire for weddings and have had a couple of bookings from people who had to cancel elsewhere: we can accommodate, by law, 30 people in any of our three lovely rooms.

We even managed to get one bench back outside the Town Hall last week and hopefully the other one will be back soon.

The primary school has used the Magistrates Room on market days to have a school uniform swap and will continue every Wednesday in August, so pop in if you need some bits for next term or have some donations.

We always offer free stalls to charities at the indoor market, so far we have supported Trintledown Dogs Trust, Froxfield Village Hall and The Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice. Future bookings include Chilton Folliat PTA, the Scouts and The Woodland Trust.

For more information about events in the Town Hall, please get in touch with the Constable, Nick Lumley, on nicholas.lumley@townandmanor.onmicrosoft.com or 07734 837 921.

Local businesses

We are glad to see more High Street enterprises reopening and wish them all the best in what must be very worrying and stressful times. One of the ways we have been able to assist them is by making The Croft available for outside seating and doing the same for The Downgate pub with some seating on the Common. We are also glad to see Mark Genders pulling some pints at our leased pub, The John O’Gaunt.

Hocktobertide

Discussions are being continuing regarding the possibility of a Hoctobertide, to replace the one cancelled earlier this year. 

Life goes on

We have managed to have several meetings by Zoom which have been extremely well attended and enabled us to continue running the charity. There have been lots of interesting discussions as to how to make the assets of the Town and Manor more effective and profitable.

As with many other organisations, our revenues have been hard hit by the pandemic but the cycles of nature – around which much of our work revolves – are oblivious to this. We’re also aware that several voluntary and charitable groups rely to a greater or lesser extent on our grants and we’re doing the best we can to make sure these won’t suffer. All the more reason why, in this year of all years, we’re so very frustrated at the time and money we need to spend as a result of tidying and repairing – see the Littering and Vandalism section above. 

Family tree

As mentioned last month, Mr Patrick Hungerford has kindly offered us a very detailed Hungerford Family, with associations with John of Gaunt and the very ancient Hungerford family. We are currently considering where this can best be displayed.

News from the riverbank

With a fantastic hatch of mayfly last month, the fishery was particularly busy – also, a lot of our regular visitors had some extra spare time in which to visit.

As ever, the bird life here has been rich and varied, as has the flora, and the otter is still about. The rain came just in time and water levels have been good.

 

The responsibilities of the Town and Manor

The Town and Manor of Hungerford is a unique institution, the only such body in England to have survived (in other places, the functions and assets of these organisations have been assumed by local councils). Some reflections on its past, and its present, role can be found here.

Many aspects of the Town and Manor, including its ownership of the Town Hall, make it look like another tier of local government (which it is not) and as a result many people are unsure of what aspects of local life it is responsible for. These are some of the main things that the Town and Manor does, all at no cost to the local residents:

• Hungerford Common (including maintenance, the cows,  the paths, the trees and event licences).
• Freeman’s Marsh (including maintenance, the cows, the paths and the trees).
• The trees in the High Street from the Canal Bridge to junction of Atherton Road (maintenance).
• The Croft (including grass cutting, trees, posts and event licences).
• The Town Hall (including bookings and maintenance).
• River Kennet and River Dun (including weed cutting, debris clearance and bank maintenance).
• Hocktide (all aspects of the festival).

For any problems, issues or enquiries relating to any of these matters, please contact Jed Ramsay on admin@townandmanor.co.uk.

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