Town & Manor of Hungerford News: August/September 2022

Hungerford Town & Manor

The Town and Manor of Hungerford is a unique organisation, the sole survivor of the once numerous such bodies which, for centuries before the advent of local councils, helped regulate the affairs of towns and protect their often hard-won liberties and privileges. Things that are unique are often misunderstood: see the foot of the post (Hungerford and Hull) for a link to an article in Penny Post which examines what the Town and Manor is (and what it is not).

Even long-term residents of the town are often unclear about the organisation. Take Geordie Taylor (founder of the Self-isolation Network during the pandemic) – he’s lived here since the mid 1980s and yet recently admitted that he “never really understood its role in the town” until he was elected as a Trustee a couple of months ago. In a letter to Penny Post and others, he made the point not only that it owns and maintains many significant parts of the town (including the Common and the Corn Exchange) at no cost to the public but also that, like the Town Council, it “gives a significant amount of money every year to various causes, clubs and groups in Hungerford.”

Proof of this aspiration can be found below in the section on the Constable’s Fund, set up to help support local residents through the cost of living crisis. Donations (which will be match-funded by the Town and Manor) are still needed and applications for help are still welcomed.

The heat has been turned down a bit (for this year at least) but the landscape that the Town and Manor owns and manages is, despite recent rain, still dangerously dry. Please take care to avoid anything that might cause a fire (and please take any rubbish away).

There are also two new things to report on this month: a replacement swing bridge on the canal (replaced by the Canal & Rivers Trust) and a new defibrillator outside the Town Hall.

Our Wednesday markets are certainly not new things but have been going on for years, indeed for centuries (including all through lockdown). Satsumas, sausages, sweets, scones, bric-a-brac, bird seed, brie, bread and many other items besides are available from about 8am until about 2pm. The traders set up on the High Street at an absurdly early time every Wednesday morning so please remember to observe the no-parking signs that are in place from midnight on Tuesday. 

We conclude, once again, with a remarkable photo from local camera-smith Andy Sherwood. Last month it was a kingfisher: this month a damselfly, poised on the tip of a leaf. Hats off to Andy for having the patience to capture this moment.

The Constable’s Fund and the cost-of-living crisis

The Town and Manor of Hungerford launched a new fundraising appeal to help local families and households trying to cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

With many people in the town struggling to manage as food, fuel and energy prices rise, the Town and Manor has set up the Constable’s Hungerford Fund, under which eligible applicants will receive one-off payments of £100.

To help fund this, the Town and Manor is issuing an appeal for donations. Any sums donated can end up by being more than doubled as the Town and Manor is match funding donations up to a total of £10,000. The government will do the same through grant Aid, if you’re eligible and apply for it. Over £15,000 (including match funding) had been raised by 5 September: £25,000 is the eventual target. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. 

For more information, including how to apply or to donate, see this page of the Town and Manor’s website.

Cooler, but still dry

Although the heatwaves are probably over (for this year at least) the ground still remains very dry, despite some recent rain.

The photo of the Common taken on 11 August shows just how parched the landscape has become.. This will take more than a couple of showers to fix.

Please help us to protect the Common and Freemans Marsh from the risk of wild fires by taking extra care  and not lighting fires or BBQs. Please also remember to take your litter home with you.

This last request is one that we make at all times of the year, of course. Every pound that we spend clearing up rubbish on the Common – all of which is unsightly and some actively dangerous – is a pound that we can’t spend on environmental initiatives, on essential repairs and improvements to the Town and Manor’s assets (including the Common, the Marsh and the Town Hall, all of which are maintained at not cost to the local council tax payers) or on grants to local community groups, many of which rely on such donations for their survival.

The new bridge

The new swing bridge has been installed over the canal near St Lawrence’s Church and opened by the Canal & River Trust. This is good news for those exploring the area as the bridge allows easy access to Freemans Marsh and a popular circular walking route. 

The swing bridge was out of action for three months whilst the Canal and Rivers Trust replaced the structure. See below for an atmospheric evening shot from last week. Welcome back…

The new defibrillator 

Our new Town Hall defibrillator has been registered with the British Heart Foundation’s national defibrillator network (The Circuit) and with the South Central Ambulance Service and as a result is ready to be accessed should it be needed.

As the Town Hall is used for hosting events such as weddings, performances and meetings, we wanted to have a defibrillator on-site. It’s located to the left of the main entrance, by the Town and Manor notice board, so it will also be a resource for the wider community as well. Full instructions can be found on the front of the box.

Pictured are the Town and Manor’s Constable Peter Joseph and its CEO Ellie Dickins and .

Speeding on the Common

A reminder that the Town and Manor has installed a speed indicator device (SID) on the common to monitor the speed motorists are travelling. (Hungerford Town Council has also installed two other ones at various locations around the town).

Thank you to all those drivers who are sticking to the new lower limit of 30mph on the Common. With the longer and warmer days we’ve been having, more people have been visiting the Common and we want everyone to enjoy their time here. The cattle are an important part of the seasonal cycle of the Common (and have right of way) so please be aware of them when driving or walking your dogs.

Available for hire

As mentioned before, the floor in the Corn Exchange has been repaired following last year’s floods and the whole place in generally in a tip-top condition. 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 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.

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 or call 01488 686555.

Hungerford and Hull

As we mentioned at the head of this column, the Town and Manor is unique, the only surviving organisation of its kind in England. The reasons for this are complex and a result of a number of historical accidents. For day-to-day purposes, however, it’s worth understanding what the Town and Manor is (and what it is not). Even Geordie Taylor, who has lived in Hungerford for 35 years, said this week that he had “never really understood its role in the town” until he was recently elected as a Town and Manor Trustee.

An article in Penny Post, written in December 2018, offers some insights into these points. It comes to the perhaps surprising conclusion that the organisation to which it can be most closely compared is Kingston-upon-Hull’s former telecoms company. Click here to find out how this might be

And finally: great things come to this who wait…

As we did last, we’ll finish with a stunning image that captures one part of the rich and varied natural landscape in the area that the Town and Manor is responsible for managing.

We celebrated World Photography Day by joining the celebration of the art, craft and creativity of those behind the lens. This superb image of a damselfly was taken by local wildlife photographer Andy Sherwood, who is known to patiently wait for many hours to capture such amazing shots. Well worth it in this case…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to the free weekly

Penny Post


For: local positive news, events, jobs, recipes, special offers, recommendations & more.

Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale