Summer seems finally to have arrived with the easing of the Covid regulations hopefully following in a few weeks.
Another busy month at the Town and Manor with, as ever, a good deal of work going on behind the scenes. Committee meetings, spreadsheets and financial reports are not inherently interesting things but they are necessary. One result of this is that the Town and Manor has been able to make around £10,000-worth of grants to local organisations since the start of the year. The latest recipients are listed below. We welcome applications from other Hungerford-based charities or organisations.
We also have some regular reminders about cows, dogs, nesting birds and litter. All these things (except the litter) need to co-exist so please follow common sense and any regulations – many of these are national laws, not something that the Town and Manor has made up.
Our outdoor market also continues to thrive in the High Street on Wednesdays and is the best place for your weekly shop for everything from passion fruit to pastries, from parmesan to pot plants and from sausages to shrimps. The market is spreading back inside as well – all in accordance with the latest guidelines.
We’ve also got news on the sparkling streams project, a joint venture between Action for the River Kennet, the Town and Manor of Hungerford and the Southern Streams Farmer Group, co-ordinated by North Wessex Downs AONB. See below for two ways in which you can get involved.
At the foot of this post we’ve got our usual summary of what the Town and Manor does – it’s a unique organisation and has a special role to play in the life of the town. As regulations ease, we hope soon to be welcoming people back for weddings and other events in the Town Hall.
Speaking of which we close this month with a (slightly speckled) photo of the Town Hall from 1929. There were certainly a lot fewer vehicles around then. It’s a reminder that we’ve been around for a long time (in one form or another for a good deal longer than 92 years) and intend to stay around for a good while yet…
The Wednesday market
The Town and Manor continues to run and support the weekly Wednesday market. We would like to thank the volunteers who give up their time every week to ensure that visitors to the market are reminded of the regulations during lockdown to maintain the safety and well-being of all shoppers.
The market takes place every Wednesday from 8am until about 2pm. Please see below for important information about parking arrangements from midnight on Tuesday.
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.
Grants to local organisations
The land and property that the Town and Manor owns in Hungerford is managed for the benefit of the community. The Town and Manor is a charity, so the profits can efficiently be provided to good causes in the town. £10,000 has been donated to local charities since January.
The charity has four support to groups, causes and projects, within the area of benefit. To this effect, the Trustees have donated to Hungerford Youth Community Centre, Hungerford Primary School Mindfulness Garde, The Camburn Trust, Hungerford Cricket Club, HADCAF and Hungerford Town Football Club.
Dogs on the Common
Dog Walkers on Freeman’s Marsh are reminded that the ground-nesting birds’ season started in March. Please read the signs placed at all the entrances to the marsh and should you wish to let your dog off the lead, please only do so where permitted.
These are now finding their feet on the Common but are still very skittish, having found a new freedom after being over-wintered in barns. Please keep your dogs under control or on a lead at all times.
Cattle have right of way on the Common. Should they be in the road, please be patient and allow then to cross. Please note that your speed should not exceed the limit. Should the cows be stationary on the road, do not blast your horn. Instead get out of your car, clap your hands and tell them to move in a calm voice and they will oblige. Should the cattle damage your vehicle it is your responsibility to claim on your insurance.
The Town and Manor has also put signs on the common asking drivers to slow down and to warn the of the cattle.
A reminder that we have joined forces with HEAT (Hungerford Environment Action Team) to have litter pickers available on the Common. Lauren Weir from the Down Gate pub has kindly offered to host litter pickers and rubbish bags for walkers to collect and pick up litter whilst out walking. We would request that any items collected are taken home and put in the volunteers’ bins as we have no rubbish bins or collection facitilies on the common. The Town and Manor Trustees are very grateful to HEAT and the Down Gate staff for implementing this project.
Work on an exciting new partnership project on the Rivers Dun, Shalbourne and Kennet began in May 2021, with opportunities for people to get involved. is a partnership between Action for the River Kennet, the Town and Manor of Hungerford and the Southern Streams Farmer Group, co-ordinated by North Wessex Downs AONB.
The two main projects on the go are work on the rivers in the the Hungerford and Shalbourne area and the rain garden at Shalbourne Primary School. Further information can be found in this separate post.
The Town and Manor will be looking for volunteers once our river restoration work has been completed. Should you wish to volunteer, or to find out more information, please contact us (see details below).
Using the Common and the Marsh
These are there for all to enjoy, amenities which are maintained by the Town and Manor for the benefit of the town. They are special places: and with that comes some regulations, many of which are national law rather than something we have made up. Here are some things to bear in mind…
As the signage on the Common and Freeman’s Marsh makes clear, these areas sit within the North Wessex Downs AONB and are classed as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The grass is an important to reducing climate change as it collects carbon. When cyclists and other tracked vehicles unlawfully use this land, it damages the grass and reduces grazing.
Speaking of wheels, please also be aware that the Common and Freeman’s Marsh are listed under the government’s Countryside and Rights of Way Act which states that all vehicles, including bicycles are not permitted to ride on the land and that drones are not to be flown.
We have also had incidents of golfers practising on the common and several golf balls have been collected already this year. As well as the obvious risks caused by a sliced shot, golf balls are extremely dangerous to cattle and dogs as they can lodge in their oesophagus or pylorus and cause asphyxiation or severe gastrointestinal damage which can cause death in a matter of hours.
Please pick up your dog poo and take it home or put it in a dog-poo bin. WBC empties the bins on a weekly basis. Please contact 01488 686555 or email email@example.com to report a full bin and we’ll request that WBC empty it. It is every dog owner’s responsibility to pick up after their dog. Dog poo carries many potential diseases which can cause blindness and death in cattle and humans. With spring on its way and many families enjoying the Common and Freeman’s marsh for picnic and play, no-one wants to be having to deal with the consequences of irresponsible dog owners.
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 the 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 email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01488 686555.
The photo below shows the Town Hall as it was in 1929 – a fair bit of time and money has been spent maintaining it since then (all at no cost to the local council tax payers…)