Town & Manor of Hungerford News: October/November 2022

Hungerford Town & Manor

A couple of years ago, I was at the Hungerford Wednesday market. I stopped to chat to the then Constable Nick Lumley who was helping with the marshalling arrangements during lockdown (throughout all of which the market remained open, to the delight of many). 

“What a wonderful market this is,” a passing shopper said to him. “I’ve lived nearby for a couple of years but never knew about it. How long has it been going for?”

“Since 1248,” Nick Lumley replied promptly. The woman glanced at her watch and looked a bit surprised at his precise timing. “No, madam,” he explained. “The year 1248.”

This is a proud tradition and one that the Town and Manor currently maintains every week, lockdown or not. Please be sure to observe the no-parking signs from midnight on Tuesday so the traders can set up early in the morning and continue to supply us with broccoli, begonias, bird seed, Brie, bread, baklava, bric-a-brac and many other things besides. See the section below for more.

Almost as old – at least as far as the available records are concerned – is the office of Constable. Today, the Constable’s main roles are to chair all formal Town & Manor meetings and to represent the interests of the Commoners. Julie Lloyd recently became the 321st Constable, following Peter Joseph’s retirement due to ill-health – we wish him a speedy recovery.

This month’s column also looks back at the recent open forum and has the latest on the Constable’s Fund established to help residents with the cost-of-living crisis.

There’s also a reminder to pay attention to both the cattle and your speedometer when driving across the Common. The cattle are still there and not always easy to spot in the gloom of a November evening. The speed limit there is 30mph, not the far higher speeds which some drivers have been clocked at by speed indicator devices installed there.

We end with some of the many wonderful pictures of birds taken by local photographer Andy Sherwood. Some of the shots took hours to get: I’m sure we can all agree that his patience and dedication are handsomely reflected in the results.

A new Constable

A very warm welcome from all of us to Julie Lloyd, who was appointed and sworn in at a ceremony last night, following the recalling of the Hocktide Jury. 

Peter Joseph, as outgoing Constable, is pictured handing the chain to Julie. Peter announced last week that he had taken the difficult decision to step down from the role due to ill health.

Julie said: “I am sorry to be taking over in such circumstances – however, Peter’s health must come first.  I am honoured to be appointed as Constable and look forward to continuing the excellent work of previous Constables and the existing Trustees.”

This page on the excellent and many-roomed Hungerford Virtual Museum has more on the role of the Constable. It also has all the ones whose names are known: this list dates back to 1458 but the office is older than that. Julie Lloyd is, since then, the 321st person to have held the office – no pressure, then…

The Open Forum

The Town and Manor hosted its annual Open Forum on 21 October. Our Steward of the Hocktide Court, Greg Furr, welcomed all those in attendance and gave a brief history of the charity, with some very interesting facts. The trustees had prepared boards and stands to give an oversight into the different aspects of the charity, giving a flavour of all that we do throughout the year. Our hayward trustee Philip Porter gave an update on the Constable’s Fund and we welcome anyone who would like to receive a donation, based on the criteria (see separate section below).

Available for hire

Local solicitors Dickins, Hopgood Chidley recently hosted a drinks reception and networking event for local businesses at the Town Hall. Your organisation could do likewise.

If you’re looking for a characterful venue for a corporate or private event, we have three historic rooms at the venue – the Corn Exchange, Town Hall and Magistrates Room – which can comfortably accommodate between 10 and 540 people. We’re located in the main High Street just 200 metres from the train station, with parking available outside.

Get in touch with our events team for more details.

The Constable’s Fund

The fund currently stands at £23,418, which is 93% of  the total amount the trustees hoped to raise. A huge thank you from the trustees to everyone who has kindly donated money to the project. The trustees would also like to extend their thanks to Newbury Building Society, Hungerford Town Council and the Co-op for donating generously to the cause.

We have had 120 applicants requesting a donation and we would welcome anyone who fits the criteria and lives in the town of Hungerford to email constablesfund@townandmanor.co.uk. The criteria are:

  • You live in Hungerford, with a postcode that begins “RG17 0”).
  • You are receiving any form of means-tested benefit from the government such as Universal Credit, disability benefit or housing benefit.
  • You agree that we can hold your details of the payment in order to comply with compulsory legal and audit obligations.

In addition, please note:

  • Proof of address (council tax document or utility bill) will be required.
  • Proof of means-tested welfare receipt will be required.
  • Applications can only be made per household, not per individual.
  • All payments will be £100, regardless of circumstances.
  • Payments will only be made via bank transfer.

The cattle

We would like to remind drivers that cattle are still grazing on the common. With the darker evenings, it is even more relevant that motorists stick to the 30mph limit. The cattle are still grazing and wandering around the common late afternoon and early evening, and are often in the road so please do take extra care. The SID (Speed Indicator Device) has shown that sadly, there are a good many motorists travelling well above speed limit, on a few occasions in excess of 60mph.

Lest we forget

This year’s Remembrance Day Parade will begin this Sunday in the High Street at 10.30am, before making its way on to the Bridge Street War Memorial. See below for a few photos from the archives of past Remembrance Day parades.

The Wednesday market

Hungerford is believed to have first held a market in 1248, back in the time of King Henry III.

To this day, it’s still a regular fixture and Wednesday is market day in Hungerford from about 8am until about 2pm. Each week you’ll find a range of traders on the High Street outside the Town Hall selling a range of wares including fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, baked goods, olives, flowers, clothes, fabric, collectables and more.

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.

Snapping the birds

Local photographer Andy Sherwood has been spending some time photographing some of the birds that are in residence in Hungerford. Some of the shots took hours of waiting for the perfect moment. Thank you Andy for having the patience to capture a fantastic array of wildlife – see below for a small selection.

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