Town & Manor of Hungerford News: November/December 2022

Hungerford Town & Manor

Ash trees, bats, bees, cattle and hazel all feature this month: appropriately enough, as the Town and Manor is primarily an outdoor and open-air organisation.

These and many other fauna and flora occupy a good deal of our time. Some of this work, like hazel coppicing, is part of a regular and predictable cycle. However, every now and then – and generally when you least expect it – some emergency rears its head requiring immediate action. The flood in the Town Hall last year was one example. A more recent one can be found in the first story below.

An emergency of a different kind is to greater or lesser extent affecting us all at present in the form of rocketing energy bills. Now that the weather seems about to get markedly colder, this is only going to get more serious. We’re therefore delighted to have set up The Constable’s Fund which last month made its first payments. The reaction of one gratified recipient is covered below.

The Town and Manor also supports a number of local organisations. One of these is the Youth and Community Centre which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary of being self-funding. A party was thrown and our Constable was on hand to help cut the cake.

We also provide the tree outside the Town Hall, the lights on which (and all the others in the town) were switched on by Hungerford’s three Freedom of the Town recipients on 4 December. As you can tell from the photo, there was a very good turnout (as there always is).

Another well-attended event, though of a very different nature, was the Remembrance Day service in November at which the Town and Manor was, as usual, represented.

Wednesday morning is always a busy day in Hungerford as that’s when the market sets up from very early o’clock (so please observe the No Parking signs on Tuesday night) until about 2pm. Doughnuts and dahlias, satsumas and salmon, bacon and bric-a-brac, humous and honey and many other things besides are all available.

To return to theme of nature, we also take a bee’s-eye view inside one of our hives and a drone’s eye view of the River Dun. Buzzing bees and sparkling streams are just two of the things the Town and Manor supports and encourages: though, as the other features here prove, there are plenty of other things on that list as well…

Ash and bats

Work took place on Freeman’s Marsh on 22 November to substantially reduce a mature ash tree which has been affected by ash dieback.

An annual tree inspection by our consultant arboriculturist identified the disease and advised urgent works should take place for safety reasons. The ash will not be completely felled as the trunk and shortened main branches will remain as standing deadwood. 

A bat survey was conducted before work could begin. No timber will be removed from site: instead, the brushwood will be chipped and larger pieces stacked as habitat for wildlife.

The Constable’s Fund

The first round of payments to eligible households went out in November, as part of the Constable’s Hungerford Fund. 

Josiah Ingham, 63, was one of the first recipients and has described the donation as a lifesaver. He said: “I’m not putting the heating on at all at the moment and I’ve been using the open fireplace. I had run out of wood, though, so I will probably use this money to buy some more and put a bit of fuel in the car, which I need to get around.”

Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Fund, which currently stands at £23,718. For more details, please visit our website: https://townandmanor.co.uk/constables-fund.  Anyone wishing to apply needs to do so before the closing date of 31 December 2022. We 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 Hungerford Youth & Community Centre

We were pleased to join the celebration to mark the tenth anniversary of the Centre being self-funded. 

The Town and Manor is proud to have, along with the Town Council, supported the Centre during this time. It provides a vital service in our town and it is wonderful to see that it is going from strength to strength. Fingers crossed for ten more years at least.

• Pictured below (left to right are: Hungerford Mayor Helen Simpson; HYCC Director Harriet Lamb; an HYCC member; HYCC Chair Charlie Barr; and Town and Manor Constable Julie Lloyd.

A bee’s-eye view

This wonderful photo was taken inside one of our three tree hives which are located on the Common, at the Fishery and on Freeman’s Marsh.

The wild bees help to pollinate the flowers and plants around the estate. And, indeed, not just there: estimates vary, but some claim that over two-thirds of the world’s plant species (including many crops) rely on bee pollution to some extent. The word “useful” certainly springs to mind…

As with almost everything in nature, the more you look, the more you see. It’s fascinating to see how they construct the wax and comb here. We think we’re doing the right thing by helping to protect and encourage them.

Available for hire

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.

Remembrance Day

There was a wonderful turnout, as always, for this year’s Remembrance Day parade in Hungerford. 

Led by Hungerford Town Band, the parade made its way along the High Street and on to the Bridge Street War Memorial, where crowds gathered for a service and the two minute silence.

• Pictured below (left to right): Hungerford Bellman Julian Tubb; Town and Manor Constable Julie Lloyd; Hungerford Mayor Helen Simpson; Laura Farris MP; Lt Col Myles Cook RM (retired), Branch President of the Royal British Legion Hungerford; West Berkshire Council’s CEO Nigel Lynn.

Coppicing the hazel

Thank you to all the volunteers from St Lawrence’s Church who have been busy helping our River Keeper Rob Knight-Starr at Rootes Meadow on Freeman’s Marsh. 

They’ve been coppicing hazel and making stakes which will be used to support young trees which are to be planted shortly.

As these photos show, the cows were very inquisitive to see what was going on and seemed to enjoy the process immensely. They weren’t, however, allowed to help.

And on go the lights…

It was wonderful to see the community come together for the annual Christmas lights switch-on outside the Town Hall on Sunday evening. 

The Hungerford Town Band, Hungerford Primary School Choir, Hungerford Community Theatre, Abby Cleary and Kennet Radio entertained the crowds before this year’s Freedom of the Town awardees carried pressed the button. 

The Town and Manor is proud to have donated the large tree outside the Town Hall, which is looking very pretty indeed alongside all of the other High Street lights and decorations.

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.

 

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