Town & Manor of Hungerford News: June/July 2022

Hungerford Town & Manor

This month we reflect on our continuation of an ancient tradition that still has practical results – the beating of the bounds, originally a check against incursions but now more an opportunity to check broken fences or boundary posts. This year we encouraged a wider participation on part of our extensive borders in the parish.

We also look back at a couple of events from early June – the dedication of the plaque outside the Town Hall to celebrate the fortieth (actually the fourth-second, thanks to Covid) anniversary of the foundation of the Twinning Association with the French town of Ligueil; and the decoration of the trees in the High Street for the jubilee, with some photos of a few of the many organisations which contributed to these. 

June was election month at the Town and Manor with five trustees needing to be given the democratic nod. This duly took place on 16 June and we have the results below.

The Wednesday market continues, with oranges, olives, cod, cheddar, bacon, bread, begonias and bric-a-brac all available. We also report on the road re-surfacing that has recently taken place on the area where the market sets up, resulting in a smoother experience for all users. Please continue to observe the no-parking signs from midnight on Tuesday so that the traders can set up. And speaking of signs, we’re glad the vast majority of people are observing the 30mph speed limit on the Common. Cattle, pedestrians and cyclists will all benefit from your consideration.

Finally, the Corn Exchange is now back in tip-top condition following a major re-furbishment and is once again available for hire for a wide range of events, including weddings – see below for how to get in touch regarding this or, indeed, any other aspects of the Ton and Manor’s many activities in Hungerford.

Beating the bounds

The Town and Manor is an organisation whose origins go well back into a largely pre-literate age. The various major events, such as Hocktide, were thus conducted with as much visual ceremony as possible so that people could remember what had happened and, if necessary, bear witness to the decisions in the future. Many are, largely for reasons of tradition, still performed in the same way today.

One such activity in the beating of the bounds. In times past, when maps were scarce and incursions by other landowners common, the only way of ensuring that a neighbour had not moved a fence or a hedge was to make regular perambulation of the borders. These would involve a good number of local residents whose memory of the last visit could be used as evidence. In these days of maps, online documents and drones. the whole operation could probably be conducted by one person sitting at their desk. None the less, there’s nothing like seeing things for yourself – including details like damaged fences that a drone might miss – and so many organisations, including the Town and Manor and parish councils, choose to keep these traditions going. It’s also an excuse for a good walk with a purpose…

In the Town and Manor’s case, this involves patrolling over 500 acres of land and waterways and includes the job of checking the fences and the marker posts that signify the boundary, all of which branded with the Town and Manor crest and the year of installation. Any missing or damaged ones are replaced and any incursions are photographed and recorded so that action can be taken to address the issue.

Further information, and photographs of the event dating back to the early 20th century, can be found on this page of the Hungerford Virtual Museum’ website.

This generally happens about every five years: the last one should have happened in 2020 but, as with so many other things, Covid had different ideas. This year’s event included an public beating the bounds on Sunday 19 June which was open to all Hungerford residents. See below for some photos of the bound-beating in action.

40 (in fact 42) years of the Twinning Association

We mentioned this last month but this gives an opportunity again to run the photo of an amazing cake…

The Hungerford Twinning Association unveiled a plaque on the front wall of the Town Hall to celebrate 40 years of Twinning with Ligueil in France on Saturday 4 June. (The ceremony was planned for 2020 but the pandemic got in the way.) Hungerford twinned with the town in 1980, through an initiative led by the then mayor, Jack Williams with his deputy being the Constable of the Town and Manor Robert James. This tradition has continued since with the Mayor being the President of the Twinning Association and the Constable the Vice-President.

The beautifully decorated cake mentioned above was made by the Twinning Association’s Chair Penny Brookman and you can see this below.

Decorating the trees

Also as mentioned last month, the Trustees of the Town and Manor organised for the High Street trees to be decorated as part of Hungerford’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and 31 clubs and associations throughout the town took part. It was an event that brought the whole of the community of Hungerford together and there were some amazing decoration that adorned the trees.

The photos below show (left to right) provided by: staff at Hungerford Nursery School; Constable Peter Joseph and trustee Fiona Hobson; the Hungerford Fire Station; and the Hungerford Allotment-holders Association (HAHA).

Congrats to them and everyone else who contriobuted to making Hungerford even more special than usual over the jubilee weekend.

See the Town and Manor’s Facebook page for more photos.

Election time

The election of five Trustees took place on Thursday 16 June. Trustee elections take place every three years. The last one was held in June 2019, when ten members were elected to the board for terms of either three or six years. Five of those 10 were standing down in rotation for a new six-year term.

Most but not all of those who live in Hungerford were able to vote (those who can’t include those to the north of the River Dun). Eligible voters live in the Hungerford Town tithing or the tithing of Sanden Fee (collectively known as the Area of Benefit). Although it’s not ideal that this doesn’t cover the whole of the present-day town, it isn’t practical to alter it: this area was specified when the Town and Manor was formally established up as a charity in 1905 and can be changed only with considerable difficulty and expense.

There were six nominations for five seats. The successful candidates, listed below, were sworn in at their first Trustee Board meeting on 21  June 2022

  • Alistair Fyfe, a member of Hungerford Town Council, where he holds the post of Chair of Planning.
  • Geordie Taylor, who has lived in Hungerford for 35 years and is a former chairman of the town’s cricket club.
  • Julian Dickins, another current trustee, he is a solicitor who lives locally and has worked in Hungerford for 26 years.
  • Kate Edwards, a recently retired teacher who has a long history of volunteering and fund raising.
  • Simon Lee-Smith, who has worked in the telecoms industry, primarily in procurement and sales.

The Common and the cattle

Nothing much to report on these matters except to thank those drivers (over 95%) who are observing the 30mph speed limit. There are, however, some who continue to ignore the reduction in legal speed and we urge all readers to report these vehicles or incidences of cattle being chased by cars or motorbikes, to admin@townandmanor.co.uk or 01488 686555.

Available for hire

As mentioned before, the floor in the Corn Exchange has been repaired following last year’s floods and is looking like new. The building is available to hire for events of all kinds. The rates of hire are competitively priced for a venue of this size and all local residents with a Hungerford postcode qualify for a 25% discount.

Please contact Tara on admin@townandmanor.co.uk or call 07880 311731 to arrange a viewing and to talk through your requirements. We can also provide a list of suppliers to help in the organisation of your occasion.

The Wednesday market

The Town and Manor continues to support the weekly Wednesday market. We would like to remind all visitors that the road outside the Town Hall is officially closed to all traffic every Wednesday to ensure the safety of all pedestrians. The Town and Manor politely asks drivers picking up goods not to use this road as we have had several near misses last year.

For anyone who has been worried about the slightly uneven ground at the market, we’re delighted to report that last month West Berkshire Council re-surfaced all the parking bays on which the traders set up. There was a problem with a mains water leak, perhaps caused as a result of these improvements, but that has now been sorted as well. The surface is thus currently billiard-table-smooth: not that there will be much opportunity to play billiards there on Wednesday mornings given how busy the area gets when the market is in full flow.

Please continue to observe the no-parking signs from midnight on Tuesday as the traders set up very early in the morning.

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 cattle, the trees and event licences).
• Freeman’s Marsh and Hungerford Marsh (including maintenance, the cattle 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 admin@townandmanor.co.uk or call 01488 686555.

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