Hungerford is a small, historic, market town on the Berkshire/Wiltshire border, in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Until 1895 the town was divided between the two counties.
Two rivers - the Dun and the Kennet - meet below the town, the centre of which stands back from the A4 Bath Road, which has brought Hungerford prosperity, beggars and choking traffic over the centuries. The Kennet and Avon canal passes through, as does the railway line from Reading to Devon and Cornwall.
The parish was formerly divided into four tithings: Hungerford Town, Sanden Fee, Eddington with Hidden, and Newtown with Charnham Street.
In 1894 the tithing of Leverton and Calcot, then in the Wiltshire parish of Chilton Foliat (although in the Berkshire hundred of Kintbury Eagle), was transferred to the civil parish of Hungerford, and the following year North and South Standen and Charnham Street, formerly parts of Wiltshire transferred to Berkshire.
Place names within the parish in 1851 also included Bagshot, Shalbourne, Eddington, Hungerford Newtown and Prosperous.
To the east of the town is Port Down, 200 acres of common land where fairs, horse-racing and prize-fighting were held in the past. It is still managed as common land, with grazing. To the west is Freeman’s Marsh, owned by the Town and Manor of Hungerford, and maintained as a conservation area.
The map below shows the Hungerford area in 1792.
- Size: 5,372 acres (2,176 hectares)
- Population: 5,559 in 2001; 3,070 in 1851
- Hundred: Kintbury Eagle
- Poor law: Hungerford and Ramsbury Union
- Registration district: Hungerford
- Present-day local authority: West Berkshire (unitary)
- Grid reference: SU 337 685
- Adjoining parishes in 1851: Lambourn, East Garston, Great Shefford, Kintbury, Inkpen; and in Wilts: Shalbourne, Froxfield, Ramsbury and Chilton Foliat
West Berkshire Library has 1841-91 census returns for Hungerford on microfilm/fiche, and an index to the 1851 census.
Berkshire Record Office has the following Hungerford St Lawrence parish registers:
- baptisms 1559 - 1727
- marriages 1562 - 1979
- burials 1559 - 1969
- banns 1754 - 1808, 1859 - 1987
- confirmations, 1901-08, 1925-8
and St Saviour's, Eddington, marriages 1877 - 1969.
West Berks Library holds a typed transcript of Hungerford St Lawrence parish registers (see online catalogue for dates).
Berkshire Burials covers St Lawrence 1559 – 1969.
Berkshire Marriages covers St Lawrence 1555 - 1649, 1650 – 1837.
Both CDs are available from the Berkshire FHS bookshop.
Berks FHS has published the MIs of St Lawrence churchyard on fiche.
Eureka Partnership has published Hungerford Primitive and Wesleyan Methodist registers.
Other sources and links
Published local history books
- Norman Hidden Aspects of the early history of Hungerford (Hungerford Historical Association, 2009)
- Julie Shuttleworth Elizabethan Hungerford (Hungerford Local History Group, 1995)
- Jim Davis The great fight on Hungerford Common (Town and Manor of Hungerford Charity, 1987)
- Walter Money An historical sketch of the town of Hungerford... (Blacket, 1894)
- Hugh Pihlens Hungerford a pictorial history (West Berkshire Books, 2008)
- Carol Cartwright Hungerford beyond Domesday (Cartwright, 1992)
- Anne Pitcher Hungerford remembered (1987)
- Pam Haseltine Hungerford (Hungerford Historical Association, 1993)
- Hugh Pihlens The story of Hungerford (Local Heritage, 1983)
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