Hungerford, a market-town, a petty sessional division, and the head of a county court district in Berks. It stands on the river Kennet, the Kennet and Avon Canal, the Roman Herman Street, and the G.W.R., 23 miles W by S from Reading, and 61 by rail and 64 by road from London. It was anciently called Ingleford Charman, and it may have taken the former part of that name from a ford of the Angles on the Kenuet, quasi Angleford, and the latter part from the Roman Herman Street. It also bore anciently the name of Charman Street, and an avenue still retains that name, while a tithing of the parish bears the similar name of Charnham Street. Charles I. was here in 1644, and William of Orange met the agents of James II. in Dec. 1688. An ancient horn still exists, said to have been given to the town by John of Gaunt, with the right of fishing in the Kennet. Another hom, a duplicate of the ancient one, but with an inscription of the year 1634, is preserved in the town-hall, and blown annually to summon the tenants of the manor. The town acquired important rights at various periods, and it retains a strictly preserved fishery of some miles in the Kennet and the small streams Avon and Dun, and a valuable commonage of down and marsh land. It was noted in Evelyn's time as " a toune famous for its troutes," and it is still a favourite resort of anglers. The climate is salubrious, the surrounding scenery is picturesque, and the neighbouring lands are very fertile. The town consists chiefly of one long street. A tubular bridge of the Berks and Wilts Extension railway crosses the street at right angles, and a commodious wharf is attached to the canal. The town has a head post office, a railway station, two banks, and is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and the headquarters of the Berks yeomanry cavalry. The Town-hall and Corn Exchange is a building of brick, standing in the High Street,. which was erected in 1869 at a cost of about £4000. The church is a modern building of stone in the Perpendicular style, occupies the site of a previous one which was ancient, and contains a tablet-once part of the tomb of Sir R. de Hungerford, who died in the time of Edward III. and was buried here. St Saviour's Church at Eddington, a chapel of ease to the parish church, is a building of brick in the Gothic style. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford; net value, £220 with residence, in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Windsor. There are Congregational, Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan chapels. The workhouse stands on a high and healthy site, and was built in 1840 to afford accommodation to 344 inmates. An ancient hospital was in the town, but has completely disappeared. A weekly market is held on Wednesday, a cattle fair on the last Wednesday of April, a wool fair on the last Wednesday of June, a sheep fair on 17 Aug., and hiring fairs on the Wednesday before, and the Wednesday after, Old Michaelmas day. The government is vested in a constable elected annually, and in feoffees, who have filled the office of constable. Dr Chandler, the eminent dissenting minister of the 17th century, was a native.
The area of Hungerford is 5564 acres; population, 2964. The manor belonged to John of Gaunt; is supposed to have been given by him to the town; and is held, under the Crown, by certain of the inhabitants who are called feoffees. Hungerford Park, adjacent to the town, was the residence of the barons of Hungerford; a mansion on it was built by Queen Elizabeth, and given to the Earl of Essex; and a modern mansion in the Italian style, on the same site, is now the property of the Willes family.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Hungerford St. Lawrence|
|Poor Law union||Hungerford|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The Parish register dates from the year 1559.
Church of England
St. Lawrence (parish church)
The parish church of St. Lawrence, erected in 1814, on the site of the old church, is a building of stone in a Debased Perpendicular style, and consists of apsidal chancel, clerestoried nave of four bays, aisles, south porch and an embattled western tower with pinnacles and containing 6 bells: there are eight stained windows: the pulpit, presented by Elizabeth Pearce Lidderdale and Eleanora Lidderdale, in 1891, to the memory of their parents, is of stone, with an alabaster cornice and other enrichments: affixed to the east wall of the nave is a small tablet of yellow marble, formerly a portion of the tomb of Sir Robert de Hungerford kt. who died in 1354 and was buried in a chapel on the south side of the old Church: the effigy, in stone, of an armed knight, cross-legged, and supposed to represent him, is now placed on the floor immediately beneath: there are also monuments to Henry Hungerford, of Standen (ob. 1673), third son of Sir Anthony Hungerford, of Blackborton, Oxon; to Mrs. Helina Morgan (ob. 1716) and to Charlotte, wife of John Willes, of Hungerford Park (ob. 1807); there are also many mural tablets to the Willes, Michell and Whitelock families: in 1880-1 the church was thoroughly renovated, reseated and a new organ added at a total cost of £3,300: there are 700 sittings.
The Congregational chapel, erected in 1840, is of brick, and will seat 300 persons.
The Primitive Methodist chapel was erected in 1866, and has 250 sittings.
Wesleyan Chapel, Charnham Street
The Wesleyan chapel, in Charnham Street, erected in 1869, at a cost, including site, of upwards of £3,000, is of grey local brick, with red bands and arches and Bath stone dressings in the Gothic style, and consists of a nave with shallow transepts and an apse at one end; from the roof rises a belfry containing one bell: there are seven stained windows: including the gallery there are sittings for about 360 persons.
Hungerford was in Hungerford Registration District from 1895 to 1974
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Hungerford from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Hungerford (St. Lawrence))
- Kelly's Directory of Berkshire, 1915
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Berkshire is available to browse.
Online maps of Hungerford are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Berkshire papers online:
The Visitations of Berkshire 1532, 1566, and 1665-6 is available online.
The Poor Law Institution, Park Street, stands on an elevated and healthy site; it was built in 1840 to hold 344 inmates.