August has been good and bad at the Town and Manor.
The bad news, which many of you will have read about elsewhere, is that a cow was killed on the Common on 29 August. There’s more on that below. It was with enormous regret, and expense, that we had to engage a vet to put it out of its misery. This is the first beast that we have lost this year, but as the dark nights start creeping in and the speed limit on the Common remains at 40mph it may not be the last…
Fortunately, the rest of the news is rather better. The Town Hall hosted its first wedding in a long time, a slightly bizarre event as everyone was wearing masks in the wedding photos, no doubt an unusual picture for the family to look back on in years to come. We have a couple more weddings coming up this month and the venue is working really well for these events. Please get in touch if you would like to hold your special event with us, and remember that all the rental fee goes to charity. Contact details are below.
We’re also glad to report that the instances of littering on the Common have reduced. Thank you to all the many considerate users of The Marsh and Common who have taken their rubbish home and even picked up other people’s litter. I’m sure that many of you have enjoyed the open spaces that are provided free of charge to our residents and visitors.
See also below for more on the Wednesday market and for news of some volunteer fruit picking in our recently-acquired orchard
Fatal cow hit-and-run incident
We are sad to report that a cow was fatally injured in collision with a vehicle on Saturday 29 August. The driver of the vehicle left the cow in distress and agony for us to find several hours later. The cow’s back was broken and the vet could only relieve the animal from its suffering by putting it down.
“It is very upsetting when one of our cows is injured like this and then left to suffer,” Philip Porter, the Town and Manor’s Hayward, said. “We would ask anyone who is aware of a car being damaged or recently repaired in the area due to a ‘deer’ or other animal to get in touch.” The Town & Manor can be contacted on 01488 686555.
“If you hit a cow and are reluctant to come forward, please think how much longer the animal will suffer if you don’t notify someone straight away,” added Jed Ramsay, CEO of the Town & Manor. “It turns an accident into something so much worse.”
The Town & Manor has been campaigning for the speed limit to be lowered to 30mph across Hungerford Common to protect both the cattle and those driving. The application has been initially supported by both Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire District Council and is following due process. We understand that the matter is now being considered by central government.
A photograph of the injured cow can be seen below.
The Wednesday market continues
We would like to thank all the customers who have supported the market during lockdown and since its gradual relaxation. 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. A huge thank you also to the stall holders who have kept it going with such good grace and cheerfulness.
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. There are also an increasing number of stalls selling non-food items, ranging from books and bric-a-brac to block paving. These are located on the street, on the Town Hall steps and, increasingly, in the Town Hall itself.
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
As mentioned above, we are managing 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, the reopening of the indoor market on Wednesdays and our first wedding. 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 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 email@example.com or 07734 837 921.
Picking fruit in Picket’s Mead
In 2017, the Town and Manor acquired Picket’s Mead near the A4. To say this was overgrown would be an understatement: but, once we had carefully cleared it we discovered not only a building (which was a surprise) but also 100 venerable fruit trees, mainly apple. Subsequent research has proved that some of these are unique varieties. We’re still researching when and by whom the orchard was created: if you have any information, please get in touch with Jed or Nick. Whoever did this seemed to have known what they were doing as most of the trees and survived and thrived, producing over three tonnes of fruit last year.
This tear promises to be a bumper harvest as well. We’re delighted that in early September volunteers from HEAT will be helping us harvest these with some of the proceeds going into producing our own apple juice and some to West Berkshire Foodbank.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.