Issue 106

1st March
to
1st June 2010

Please click a heading or just scroll down to read the articles, click the Up arrow to return here


Front Cover by Micky Thompson

Winter does seem never ending this year. Yet where would be the wonder of Spring, if we didn’t have the bleak days preceding it. The cover picture shows bluebells in St Lawrence’s churchyard taken in early May, as a reminder of the many visual pleasures to come. If you would like to see it in colour, log on to Google and type in www.hungerford.uk.net/chain.php

As I write this in early February, the first of the snowdrops are just starting to appear. For those of you that have travelled the few miles to the snowdrop woods of Welford Park, you will know what an absolutely breathtaking experience that is. As a photographer the vast drifts of white present a challenging subject, to compose a dynamic, well constructed photograph from such little flowers, in such profusion.

The next spectacular show in the Spring, are the carpets of bluebells within West Woods, a little to the West of Marlborough. The heady scent, and the richness of the blue make it an unforgettable sight. If you are planning to photograph them, it is best to go on an overcast day, when the lushness of the new green beech leaves and the bluebells are not in bright sunlight. Bright light tends to turn the blue to a magenta, and renders the fresh greens less intense. So, lots to look forward to, and remember to take the camera.


 


Message from the Chairman of CHAIN

Well everyone, Spring is round the corner and all I can say is thank goodness after all that snow. I hope you all survived the snow and ice with no falls or accidents. I’m sure you will agree with me that the pavements in Hungerford were extremely dangerous and I hope that the review which is taking place will mean they will be treated much sooner next time we have snow or ice.

There have, I’m sure, been many congratulations sent to Rod Desmeules and his team for the wonderful Christmas Lights. They must be the best in the South of England. Hungerford looked so good during the Christmas period and the Victorian Extravaganza was a fantastic event which was a credit to the small committee who make it happen every year.

The Centenary celebrations for the Primary School are going ahead and I am sure it will be a very exciting weekend (September 25th/26th) for everyone in the Town and beyond. If you are interested in helping or coming to the Saturday event please contact me on 683302. Also if you have any photographs you would be willing to lend the school for an exhibition please let me know. Please look out for posters advertising this event during the summer.

Chain is always looking for drivers but they also need volunteers to help deliver Chain Mail. This is only four times a year, but it is vital to Chain as it means everyone in Hungerford gets a copy of Chain Mail. So if you have a little time to spare please contact the Chain Office (683727) or myself on 683302. Thanks to all our volunteers, drivers, office ladies, Chain Mail Links, you all help to make Hungerford the special town we all appreciate so much.

I hope you all went to see the Town Show (Carousel) it was brilliant and I would like to thank everyone who took part and made this the 30th Town Show such a great success.

Janette Kersey


Editor

Hello again.

Did you all enjoy the Snow of January? During that time there were two special people for me, Gloria & Gavin, my thanks to you both. I also know that Swift Couriers of Newbury were the real heroes for delivering to us in Hungerford all the over 80’s food parcels to Croft Hall, at almost the eleventh hour after we had been let down by a firm from Thatcham, SWIFT came up trumps. What about you?

Well it’s gone now, the snow that is, and Spring and Summer to look forward to. March 28th British Summer time starts, and Good Friday on April 2nd. Won’t be long before our Summer edition with the short form HADCAF programme, which is always a pleasure to print.

Regarding the TOWN DIARY, as Margaret Wilson was unable to do it for the Christmas issue, (but has recovered now) the response from local organisers was pitiful. All you have to do is e-mail Margaret mbairdwilson@tiscali.co.uk and ‘’copy’’ me, we then compile it, print it in CHAIN MAIL for you, put it on the notice board under the bridge for you, and upload it to Hungerford’s very own WEB site for you. ALL FOR FREE. From the Website you can download the WHAT’S ON into a spreadsheet ALL FOR FREE! So come on , participate for free and improve your event/membership/attendance figures. I am not sorry that I have gone on, it’s such a shame that so many people ‘’miss’’ out on WHAT’s ON in our community.

Age UK is the new name for Age Concern and Help the Aged, from spring 2010.

“ We are urging people who are worried about heating their homes to ensure they are claiming all their benefits. If you are not claiming the relevant qualifying means-tested benefits such as Pension Credit which currently goes unclaimed by 1.7 million entitled pensioners‚ you won’t receive Cold Weather Payments of £25 currently being paid out. Please contact your local Age Concern or call our national helpline on 0800 00 99 66 to find out what benefits you may be eligible for.”

Below some of my quick picks…………
page 5 Letters & e-mails start. Please make them 200 words or less, otherwise I might have to take my ‘blue pencil’ to them
page 18 I Love Hungerford
page 19 Paul’s Plea……Use it or loose it?
page 30 What’s a NOTARY then?
page 31 Verse & Worse……Needs your support
44 pages our biggest issue yet…………….please enjoy.

Thanks & Regards David Piper.

Tel: 01488-683152           davidhpiper111@btinternet.com

Letters, Articles and adverts should be sent to me by the 7th of the month proceeding publication, i.e.7th February for the March issue on March 1st. If you send something to me I will always acknowledge within 3 days. No reply from me then I have not got it, so please re-send.


Hungerford Mayor

 

The year is already flying by and after a slow start, largely caused by the heavy snow, everything is catching up again.

We have an exciting year ahead in Hungerford with the 200th Anniversary of the Kennet and Avon Canal and we look to progress the pedestrian bridge further, with West Berks Council, in the next few months.

It is also the 100th anniversaries of Hungerford Primary School and Girl Guiding and we are delighted to now have two Brownie packs in the Town.

I have recently collected the new plaque which will sit along side James Dean’s gravestone in St. Lawrence’s Churchyard and we will have a small ceremony to officially mark its unveiling.

Cllr Gwynneth Bullock is progressing the marking of the paupers graves with Sarsen stones and a plaque at St Saviours Cemetery and it is hoped this too will be concluded shortly.

The Council have agreed to replace four trees within the War Memorial avenue at Bulpit Lane as they are either missing, dead, or in need of attention. Each tree in this avenue commemorates one lost Hungerford soldier’s life from the Second World War and there should be 28 trees in total. We have also accepted a very generous offer from the Berkshire Gardens Trust to enhance the Tragedy Memorial Garden and complete improvements in the planting, starting with the soil. New plants will replace the old woody roses to again symbolise each life lost, as before.

Our Annual Parish Meeting is to be held on March 18th in the Corn Exchange and it is the public’s opportunity to come and hear and question what the council has been doing throughout the last 12 months, I welcome you to attend.

Elizabeth Cardwell Mayor of Hungerford


Notices

Also on this page…….Parish Meeting………Raising Funds………Town Band & Dowlais…..

            


To all Electors of Hungerford Parish

You are invited to attend the Annual Town Meeting

on Thursday 18th March 2010 at 7.00p.m.

in the Corn Exchange, Hungerford.


Fund raising evening


Hungerford Town Band



Hungerford Town Band Annual Concert in
Hungerford Corn Exchange on
Saturday 1st May 2010 at 7.30pm
Tickets to be available from Crown Needlework.

Dowlais Male Choir
and
Hungerford Town Band in Concert

Saturday 22nd May at 7.30pm, St. Lawrence Church Hungerford

This Choir has visited the town on 20 occasions since 1976 when it performed at the John o’ Gaunt School in aid of a new School Minibus. Since then it has donated its concert fees to local good causes and charities in Hungerford amounting to a total estimated to be in the region in excess of £30,000.

It is now 2 years since the successful Defibrillator Appeal was launched raising approx. £2800 at the concert. The Dowlais Choir and the Hungerford Town Band will be donating their fee from this performance to the Marie Curie Nurse Appeal where it is hoped to finance the training of a dedicated nurse to work within Hungerford. This is the third occasion that the Dowlais Choir and the Hungerford Town Band have performed together and it promises to be a wonderful evening.

Tickets £10, will be available in April and everyone will be invited to the “After Concert” in the Croft Hall where the traditional sing-song will take place. Bar available!
I hope to see you there.                                                     Mansil .Morgan.


Bits 1

Also on this page……..H.H.A………..Battery Recycling………British Legion News……..

Hungerford Rotary

Annabel King, Chairman of Hungerford Rotary’s Youth service Committee is seen
with President Hugh Pihlens, presenting a cheque for £250 to Dee Anderson, Deputy Head of Hungerford Primary School towards the cost of special equipment and aids…..such as the puppets shown in the photograph and coloured numeracy pieces.

The President expressed….. “a wish to stay in very close contact with the school especially during this year, their Centenary in September”.


Hungerford Historical Society

’Tommy’– Professor Richard Holmes 27th January

Renowned author, lecturer, and TV presenter Richard Holmes enthralled a packed house with his talk on the British army during the First World War.
He started by revealing how the army at the time was made up from career soldiers, volunteers, the TA and conscripted soldiers, the latter 3 groups becoming essential as most of the first were wiped out in the first year. He told us how the trenches were constructed, the impact the shell had on warfare and described a typical day in the life of Tommy.

The talk finished to a long, and well deserved, ovation.


We are Clean and Green

BatteryBack at Hungerford Library

The recently introduced EU Batteries Directive requires that 25% of household batteries placed on the market each year are recycled by September 2012. The current recycling rate in the UK totals 2.3%. To help achieve this aim, Hungerford have chosen to be part of the BatteryBack scheme.
It is very simple, you just post your batteries through the hole in the top.

What happens to the batteries once they have been collected? The batteries are sorted into chemical type, bulked up and then sent on to treatment facilities for 100% recycling; recovering all base metals and plastics.
For more information please visit      http://www.batteryback.org


USE IT OR LOSE IT

………………..An announcement from the

Royal British Legion in Hungerford

Due to the economic climate, as from the first week in Feb we will be closed on Monday and Wednesday evenings, a decision not taken lightly. However action had to be taken to reduce running costs and thus enabling the club to carry on trading.

Other cost reductions have been implemented and hopefully we will be able to continue to trade. I feel I must also say a term that’s used in many small towns and villages during this recession ‘use it or lose it’ it is as simple as that.

On a brighter note we still have functions at the club including:-
Womens Section meetings are the first Tuesday of the month
Dancing Classes with Rita Long on the 2nd,3rd and last Tuesday of the month
Thursday Night Bingo, and the last Friday of the month is the Hungerford Jazz Forum to mention a few.

We are open @ 7pm Tuesday, Thursday Friday, Saturdays and Sundays

We have a lovely function room we hire out for parties

Kind regards, Club Chairman Paul Hewer


Hungerford Surgery

Influenza A H1N1 (Swine flu) update for Hungerford Surgery patients

(As at 14th Feb 2010)

The swine flu pandemic has officially been declared over, as the number of new cases continues to plummet. We will continue to monitor the situation however and Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson is still urging the vulnerable to have the jabs. He said ‘when the virus returns I would very much like to see young children already protected’.

We are now able to offer the swine flu vaccine to children aged over 6 months and under 5 years old. Parents should have received further information and a letter of invitation from our Primary Care Trust – NHS Berkshire West – and should contact the surgery on 01488 682507 if they wish to book an appointment with a Practice Nurse.

Value your appointment
Patients who fail to keep their appointments is costing the NHS more than £600 million a year, enough to run two medium-size hospitals, data has shown.

At the Hungerford Surgery we value every single appointment as an opportunity to provide our patients with the best service possible. We hope you share our view that appointments are precious and you may therefore be surprised to learn that over 100 people per month fail to turn up for appointments they themselves have booked.

That is an alarming 1,200 wasted appointments per year or to put it another way over 200 hours of wasted time which could be put to better use. Whilst we fully understand that things don’t always go to plan and that missing an appointment is sometimes unavoidable, it does not take much effort to pick up the phone to let us know you are feeling better or to apologise because you will have to miss an appointment.

Please support our efforts to reduce the number of wasted appointments in 2010.

Extended Hours
A reminder that Hungerford Surgery continues to offer additional appointments on specific days of the month. Early appointments are available on Tuesday mornings whilst late evening appointments are available on one Monday evening every month. We also provide a Saturday morning surgery once a month.

Full details of the dates and times of these appointments can be found on our website – www.hungerfordsurgery.co.uk
– or by contacting the surgery reception in person or on 01488 682507.

A reminder also that during extended opening hours, and outside of normal opening hours, all medical emergencies are attended to by the WestCall out of hours emergency service.
The telephone number for WestCall is: 0118 978 7811

Winter Newsletter
A copy of our winter newsletter can be picked up from reception or downloaded from our website.

Mike Hall Practice Manager


The Old Codger

Do I remember a promise from the last time it snowed Oh yes we will get more salt for next winter! What a load of kybosh! Perhaps HTC can get together with others and buy a small snow plough, primarily to clear the pavements. The lack of help from West Berks Council is abysmal, yet again! Why don’t we adopt the German way of everybody clearing their own frontage, including businesses, and if a reasonable attempt has been made then nobody can make a claim if they fall over!

Why oh why can’t we all get back to common sense attitudes, and help others as we would like to be helped. Kick Human Rights from here to kingdom come, and abolish the sue society?

So election time is nearly upon us, remember PENSIONER POWER, remember who has ruined a lot of our PENSIONS. Use your vote, get your own back! You youngsters should also look to party politics that will help your pension in your old age, and not give with one hand and then take back in tax when the time comes to collect your pension. At the moment anything over £9030 is taxed at 20% ! So at the best, us OAP’s government increase is £2.40 a week less 20% tax. If you get more than £9490 (in 2010/11) or over 75 it’s £9690. So this = £1.92 x 52 = £99.84 for the year My council tax went up by £57 last year, and HTC is slightly increasing theirs. If you have not paid enough contributions you will get less, typically £1.45 and if you pay tax it becomes £1.16 x 52 = £60.32 for the year, less your Council tax and the ‘’broadband levy’’, and would you believe it, the Chancellor NEXT year will probably take away 1.5% of next years possible increase! Starting October another stealth tax £6 a year if you have a landline telephone, this is to pay for other peoples broadband!

What about our ’’Bridge’’?   After a meeting on 21 May 2009, it then took nearly four months to come back with some ideas firmed up, and a lot that were ignored! So after 3rd of September’s meeting when more ’’firming’’ up was promised, and the comment printed in the last edition of CHAIN MAIL (Dec 1st), ‘’we can’t afford to dawdle and must make best speed’’, Why oh Why are we still waiting? It’s nearly six months now! My goodness the firm that WBC have hired to do our bridge designs are one of the largest in the country. Are they really this incompetent or is our bridge in danger of NOT HAPPENING? Nick Furr did a reasonable design in minutes!

Ed’s comment, You are behind the times old chap, (he submitted this at the end of January), but it has been a long long time so please see page 3 ad.


Please contact me through David’s e-mail,     davidhpiper111@btinternet.com
or to CHAIN Office…..address on outside back page and title your words/thoughts as …….Old Codger column please ……. Bye Bye & keep safe.


Gardening by Stacy

THYME OUT

No sooner is Christmas over than the Crème Egg ads and holiday brochures appear. However, although I feel like I am living my life in ever decreasing circles, I can’t complain. I love the thought of holidays and the promise of sunshine. I am already thinking about a suitable holiday destination for all of the family for next year- very tricky as we are all so different. The ideal spot would be a period property in a Japanese theme park with a garden and its own nature reserve. Let me know if you come across this!

We have, of course, spent some wonderful holidays in this country and as a result I have been able to visit some beautiful and interesting gardens. Holidaying in Britain means that there is such a diversity in landscape and climate or growing conditions. The gardens of Cornwall are particularly notable- Heligan and the Eden Project being perhaps the most famous, with many, many others. Personally I prefer the slightly less commercial gardens in Cornwall such as Cotehele with its medieval dovecote set in a very natural landscape. All benefit from the warm Gulf stream climate to allow lush leafy sub tropical growth to flourish.

I also adore the Lake District even though I have never been lucky enough to spend time there when it has not been mostly raining. Still, all that rain results in amazing greenery and there is no finer example when it comes to evergreens than Levens Hall in Kendal. The property dates from the 16th century and has magnificent architecture complimented by the fantastic topiary sculptures.

In complete contrast, over the border in Scotland, Floors Castle, the home of the Duke of Roxburghe produces a riot of colour in the summer with its deep, tiered herbaceous borders. Although the style is reminiscent of the so called traditional English garden, the deep pinks, reds, purples and yellows of the flowers have much in common with the bold colours of tartan.

In recent years, holidays for us have been spent in France as we are renovating a property there. I love the French style of planting and I wish that I could bring the colour, imagination and enthusiasm on display on French roundabouts to our area. I have still taken time out to visit local gardens. I was a little surprised on one garden visit to see the odd gaps in borders where a plant had failed or even a stray weed or two which would be a terrible offence here in Britain. Yet, even on that day, I turned a
corner and was met by a large square border, probably about 10m by 10 planted only with Sunflowers. Cleverly they were varying in height and variety with the dwarf sunflowers around the edge, graduating upwards in size to giant Sunflowers in the middle. The whole planting took on a triangular form like a golden representation of the famous Louvre pyramid.

STACY TUTTLE


Nature Notes by Hawkeye

Nature Notes Great Bustard

I have just been reading about the Great Bustard seen in
Great Shefford. This is amazing. I can remember when there was the same excitement about Red Kites. Only a few years ago I drove 20 miles to see one. It had a red tag on its wing and it was resting in a field near a friend’s house. We took numerous photographs of it and wondered what would happen to it. Now Red Kites can be seen everywhere and I barely give them a second look. None of them have coloured tags on their wings. So they must breed naturally in the Hungerford area.

Hopefully Great Bustards will be breed successfully as well. Unfortunately they are supposed to return to their birth place to mate and prefer wide open spaces. Therefore the best we can hope for is the occasional sighting. I suspect the Great Shefford bird will return to Salisbury Plain in the Spring and join a flock. Then the flock will perform courtship rituals at a Lek – the mating grounds.

I think it will be worth joining the Great Bustard Group via their website www.greatbustard.com   so you can visit the breeding grounds. If you would like a guaranteed sighting of a Great Bustard then a trip to Andover may be necessary. The Hawk Conservancy has built a special aviary to display a pair. Andover is the only place in England where a Great Bustard can be seen in captivity. I went out looking for the Great Shefford bird twice but I’m afraid I dipped both times. Perhaps I will have to go out again as I like eating in the village pub, the Swan. It is quite pleasant and the food is quite good.

There was a great variety of water birds on the River Lambourn which flows past the windows in the pub. I saw a Kingfisher, Water Rail, Little Egret and a Little Grebe on the river on my first outing. One of the locals told me that there was a Green Sandpiper in the area by the Church as well as the ubiquitous Mallards, Coots and Moorhen.

Apparently the Great Bustard was last seen in some fields near Weston and Wickfield, so I drove up the track to the sewage works and along the byway to Wickfield. At the sewage works I saw a small flock of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails. They were feeding on the insects which live on the clinker beds. As these birds are resident in England I suspect they will remain here throughout the winter and might even breed here. Amongst the Pied Wagtail was a Grey Wagtail. This surprised me as they are supposed to prefer running water and stay near rivers. This bird had a beautiful grey back and yellow vent. The colours were particularly vibrant which leads me to think it was coming into breeding plumage.

On one of my outings I met the local gamekeeper who told me he suppressed the information about the Great Bustard because he did not want twitchers spoiling his shoot. He said the bird had a blue tag and was a female. The blue tag meant it was raised this year. He thought “it was still about”. Interestingly there was a small flock of Guinea Fowl in the wood which he said he kept as “Guard Birds” to warn him of foxes and humans.

Hawkeye


NEWS FROM YOUR DISTRICT COUNCILLORS


PAUL HEWER AND DAVID HOLTBY





The recent bad weather proved a bit of a challenge, particularly for some of our older residents, but people rallied round and it was great to see good neighbourliness very much to the fore. It took a while to develop our “winter legs” and motorists had to relearn the skill of driving on snow and ice – slow and steady certainly won the race. Owners of 4-wheel drive vehicles were quids-in and happy to share their good fortune, with others. The Winter Weather Plan swung into action, with main roads, certain other important routes and town centre footways gritted according to a pre-agreed priority. We can all think of better ways of doing things next time and, to this end, you are encouraged to contribute to a review that we are undertaking jointly, with our Town Council colleagues. Perhaps you know a route that should be afforded a higher priority or can suggest a better location for a grit box – please pass your ideas to the Town Council Office at the Library.

Planning for our much-needed Canal Footbridge goes on apace, with the structural engineers working closely, with the designers to produce a safe and pleasant crossing. Their ideas will be displayed in the Library for the month of March and there will be a further Public Meeting, during the last full week of March, once people have had a chance to study the plans. Your comments are important, so don’t hang-back. We have come a long way in a year and will, hopefully, see something taking shape in the not too distant future.

The unadopted service road in Church Way has been a problem for many years and we are close to getting something done about it. The gravel washes down the hill, blocking the drains as far as Parsonage Lane. The new scheme will see the road properly surfaced and the associated drains refurbished. It has been a long-time in coming, but the plan will improve the look of the area, whilst making things a lot more comfortable for residents.

There have been some well-publicised concerns about a couple of proposed housing developments North of the A4. Both were outside the Development Boundary and, therefore, destined for refusal. The District Council recently adopted a Corps Strategy for the Government-imposed Local Development Framework, which will determine the shape of our communities for many years. It is a long, protracted process and, until complete, our boundaries will remain.

Don’t forget, if you need help with a problem or want to share an idea, you can telephone, e-mail, write or attend one of our “Surgeries” at 10 am – 12 noon on the first Saturday of each month at Hungerford Library in Church Street.

Serving the community
by working closely with the Town Council to represent Hungerford in West Berkshire

phewer@westberks.gov.uk (07979) 257329 djholtby@wbca.org.uk (07753) 635296

 

My Love of Freemans Marsh


I have known Freemans Marsh for almost 80 years, and without doubt I consider it to be the jewel in Hungerford’s very precious crown. A place of such wonderful freedom for us all, but especially for children, it would be difficult to replicate in other towns as its status within the framework of the Town & Manor Charity gives it such a privileged position. I am pleased to be a Trustee of this important Charity and quite correctly I am sometimes accused of holding a romantic view of the Marsh, which differs from the business-like approach of my colleagues.

This (criticism) is not considered unreasonable by myself, but my boyhood contains memories of a less commercial approach to Marsh management. There was regular swimming in the canal to the west of Marsh Lock, always attended by the utmost decorum and boys and girls changing areas were carefully preserved. In those days nothing moved on the canal, and in spite of the stagnant water, it was clear and almost clean and certainly by comparison with ‘’The Broads’’, considerably warmer. Maybe many readers won’t know of ‘’The Broads’’. This was officially designated as the town swimming place on the River Kennet. An area set aside by the Town & Manor in the 30’s, it was properly set up with separate changing rooms and was a straight 50 yard stretch of River swimming. The argument over the pros & cons of the ‘’Broads’’ swimming could be the subject of a separate article, but I well remember the school’s organised swimming periods involved a crocodile of children down Fairview Road over the Railway and along the north bank of the Canal to the River Kennet.

To return to the Marsh (never called Freemans Marsh in my boyhood), we roamed where we wished, in and out of the rivers, which very definitely contained a much greater volume of water than today, and there was much more water control also. I am not sure of the reason for the lack of water but I am suspicious of the effect of water extraction has on the underlying water table. Hatch water control was very essential to the holders of Strongrove allotments. The quite vigorous stream flowed where there is today a completely blocked channel and was wholly dependant on Ash Pool hatch allowing water to flow.

Equally attractive and certainly a spot for mothers with small children, was the ‘’rushing’’ water, so called because it powered through a concrete hatch in the middle river, and on the down stream side was an ideal depth for small children to paddle in. It was much favoured over the Ash Pool, as almost all visitors approached the Marsh on the north bank of the canal when they left the Church swing bridge. There were stepping stones over the Shalbourne overflow and a convenient stile gave access to this favoured spot. This footpath disappeared after the 1957 introduction of a draft definitive map, as there was a disputed ownership of the bank but it was felt to be a sad loss to many people.

It seems incredible now but on the day that the town’s new open air swimming pool at the War Memorial Recreation Ground was opened in 1963, I attended officially as a Trustee for that project, but as soon as the ceremony was completed I joined my wife and two sons on the banks of the ‘’rushing water’’ to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Marsh.

I recall quite clearly that Dr. & Mrs. Max Wallis also sat on the grassy bank to chat on that afternoon. It may interest readers to remember that the other Trustees of the Town new pool project were Col. Jackie Ward, Philip Spackman and Humphrey Hope.

To move on to my service in the towns Fire Brigade we were frequent visitors to the Marsh Lock for ‘’deep lift’’ pumping tests or open water drills. This always resulted in great fun!!

One of the features of the Marsh is the very ancient hedge growing from Cobblers Lock to the railway which divides the more recently acquired Rootes Meadow. In the 70’s when I was chairman of the Town Landscape Group, we requested a survey from Reading Museum and they declared the hedge to be 1000 years old and this has been confirmed quite recently.

It would be remiss of me to conclude this article without a mention of the considerable disappointment and even anger which is expressed to me by very many people concerning the present wire fencing project. I do not enjoy being continually on the defensive, but I have tried to protect the interest twixt the Trustees and the Public. I would say that at least the fences are plain and not barbed wire. I just wonder what artists and photographers will make of it, the beautiful River Dun with fences.

There has been another contentious issue on the Marsh concerning the loss and re-instatement of the Pegasus Bridge. The original single plank, single rail bridge on F.P.52 was much improved by the Walter family, but that fell into disrepair and has now been replaced by a very very expensive but good looking bridge at the expense of West Berks taxpayers.

To conclude, as I grow older I love to visit the Marsh through all the seasons. My normal daily habit is a walk in the early morning, and these days I need a walking stick, but it is wonderfully invigorating. Sometimes its even better to walk in the late evening and then to stand and look and listen to the Freemans Marsh, a quite magical experience.

Jack Williams


Health by Liz

Protein – The Rejuvenator

Traditionally powdered protein supplements have been looked at as ‘body building’ sports supplements.. Here, Liz Chandler, from Natures Corner, dispels the myth
and tells us why protein is so important for good health.

Protein is the most abundant substance in the body after water and is wonderful for maintaining smooth skin and great muscle tone. It is vitally important for the growth, maintenance and repair of all body tissues and is one of the most important components of a healthy diet.
If we do not consume enough protein our bodies may age prematurely as it is a major component of bones, muscles, blood, nerves, internal organs, hair, skin, nails, ligaments and tendons. Protein is also known to improve the immune function and a deficiency may lead to complaints such as rough skin, brittle nails, thinning hair, poor muscle tone, wrinkles and stretch marks.
Protein is made up of a combination of amino acids, 22 of which are required by the human body, and these are the building blocks of our bodies. 8 of these are known as essential amino acids because they must be consumed in the diet and cannot be synthesised by the body. Common complete protein foods containing all 8 amino acids include meat, eggs and dairy products.

Whey protein is not only a complete protein but it is also one of the purist and most easily absorbed forms. It is known to have a low GI rating, is low in fat and cholesterol and lactose free.

So here are 6 good reasons why Whey Protein is good for you:

Ageing – whey protein can help to maintain muscle mass, which commonly decreases with ageing

Immune Health – By replenishing the body’s levels of glutathione and immunoglobulin, both important immune-regulating compound, whey protein supports optimum immune health.

Weight Management – protein has appetite suppressing and blood sugar-stabilising properties, and in studies, people given a whey protein drink before meals, feel less hungry when consuming fewer calories. In addition, whey protein helps to preserve valuable lean tissue (muscle) which is vital for supporting metabolism.

Cardiovascular Health
– Research has consistently shown that diet plays a pivotal role in heart health and whey protein contains certain compounds that may have a positive effect on cardiovascular health.

Bone Health – Although there is concern over excess protein and calcium depletion, recent studies have demonstrated that adequate protein and calcium almost certainly work synergistically to maintain bone mass. Exciting new research even suggests that whey protein may enhance the development of bone forming cells known as osteoblasts.

Sports Nutrition – As well as helping with increased lean muscle, whey protein has other benefits for both endurance and strength athletes. The ingestion of protein after training is associated with quicker recovery and improvement in training.

Solgar’s Whey to Go Protein blends easily and tastes great in smoothies and shakes and can even be added to sauces, cereals, muffins, pancakes and other bake mixes.

For more advice on a healthy lifestyle call Natures Corner on 01635 33007,
or email info@naturescorner.co.uk or please call in and see us.

Our Community

Also on this page……..I Love Hungerford………Chain Office………Police Report……..


TRAVEL TOKEN COLOUR CHANGE UPDATE

As from April 1st NEW token colours are PURPLE & LILAC, but what is IMPORTANT is that the old ones must be used BEFORE 30th APRIL.

Please hand in to the CHAIN office all your unused ORANGE & YELLOW tokens by the 14th of MAY.

CHAIN really appreciates these unused tokens to help keep our services running. This last year has seen an enormous drop in donated tokens, so if anyone would like to drop a fiver or tenner or even a larger cheque as a donation into the office it would be most welcome.

D.P.


The Hungerford Chamber of Commerce


……………..recently launched the
“ I Love Hungerford” campaign. This is the amalgamation of two separate schemes to promote, encourage and inform people of the benefits of shopping with independent retailers rather than the large multiples.

The posters, which you will see in many shop windows, are designed by Alex from ‘Deep Clothing’ and used extensively in Henley. The leaflet that promotes independent shopping was a discovery from the USA by Emma from Hungerford Bookshop.

With the recent loss of ‘Five Star Fruit & Veg’ being a timely reminder of just how vulnerable independent retailers can be, it is perhaps worth considering that we in Hungerford are very fortunate to have a varied High Street rather than the all too familiar generic High Streets found in so many towns. Also, do compare prices and quality, not to mention customer service, between the independents and multiples. You may be surprised just how much money you can save by staying away from the superstores.

So next time you are in the new Fruit & Veg shop, the Butchers or Bookshop, to name but a few, please take a minute or two to read the leaflet, and thank you for supporting the High Street.

B.B.


News from the CHAIN office


During the recent heavy snow and icy conditions, some of the staff members were unable to get to the office, but at no time was the service we offer curtailed, thanks to the stalwart individuals who ‘manned the fort’.

Inevitably time brings changes to the personnel who man the ‘phones and drive their cars, we therefore welcome three new ladies to our office team also three new volunteer drivers.

Leaving us recently was June Jordan, who has moved to Wales, and due to ill health, Jean Kilroy, after over twenty years of office duties. Well done! and best wishes.

We are all very sad at the passing of Fred Whitby, who was a volunteer driver for more than twenty years. Fred was a most obliging and caring member of the Chain team who could be relied upon in an emergency, and is much missed.

We look forward to serving Hungerford, and thank you for your donations, without which we could not continue.

J.Tubb


Neighbourhood Police Team


Here is the latest neighbourhood update for Hungerford from Neighbourhood Specialist Officer, PC Claire Drewitt

February:

We hope everybody coped with the weather conditions in the first couple of weeks of this month; it was certainly difficult at times. For several days our patrol work consisted of walking very carefully around the town much like everybody else.

On our drugs priority we have been patrolling our hotspot areas and arrested a man for possession of cannabis He received a caution.

Our Hare Coursing priority has been worked on with several operations targeting offenders. We have not made any arrests this month. We have had reports of night time activity; this consists of criminal damage to perimeter fences where it has been cut allowing access to the grounds of farming land.

Hungerford neighbourhood team ran an operation until the early hours of the morning to target those involved. It may be they are poaching rather than hare coursing but there does appear to be links between day and night activities. Many of the landowners are aware and have our details to call us to report any suspicious activity they see.

We have been working on our burglary priority and as the weather warms up, will be looking to hold some meetings where we can invite the public to come along and obtain crime reduction advice and meet the local team.

In January we have only received one report of a house burglary in Hungerford which occurred in Kennedy Meadow where car keys were taken from the hallway, nothing else was stolen. If you would like a home crime prevention visit in the mean time please ring Thames Valley Police and one of our Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) can arrange to come and visit you.

On Sunday 28 February at 6.30pm we held a public meeting in Sanden Close, Hungerford. If you missed this and want to raise any concerns please contact Morag McMillan.

Two young people have been arrested and charged with a public order offence in relation to a fight in the skate park in Hungerford. The new park is being enjoyed by the local youths and we wish to support this but unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.

Three Hungerford men were found guilty of causing £225,000 arson damage to a barn on the Hungerford Park estate in May 2009. The males, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared in court on Monday 4 January. They were due to re-attend Newbury Youth Court in February for sentencing.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) continues to remain below last year’s figures and we are receiving less reports of ASB. Following a rise in burglary in November, this fell to three reports in December. Vehicle crime has remained static in December with eight offences recorded and we are looking for two men who have been seen acting suspiciously in the area of Church Way late in the evening. They have been seen trying vehicle doors, so please remember to lock your vehicles and remove any valuables out of sight.

We attended the Hungerford pubwatch meeting last month and we are pleased to report that there are no issues or concerns. If you are a new licensee in the Hungerford or Lambourn area and are interested in joining pub watch then please contact us via the 24-hour Police Enquiry Centre on 0845 8 505 505 for further information.

If you have any issues or concerns and you would like to speak to a member of the team, please contact us via the 24-hour Police Enquiry Centre on 0845 8 505 505 or call into Hungerford police station Monday – Friday between 9am – 1pm.

Hungerford Police Station, 31 Park Street, Hungerford, Berks., RG17 0EA

Tel: 0845 8 505 505 Station Opening Times Mon-Fri 9am-1pm
Station Duty Officer Morag McMillan

www.thamesvalley.police.uk

In living memory…

When a local hero took the salute

It was War Weapons Week for the Hungerford Rural District, on Sunday April 20th. 1941.

The parade through the Town, was not to be forgotten by those who were there. The procession assembled in “Dog Lane” near the Regent Cinema at 2.00pm. (prompt), it moved off at 2.30pm. The one and a half mile route was to go from the cinema down Atherton Road, High Street, Bridge Street, Charnham Street, (East) Oxford Street, Wantage Road (South) then back up to the top of the High Street, passing the saluting base that had been erected outside Bodmans the outfitters shop.

The salute was taken by The Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal KCB., DSO., MC. (as he was then). Vehicles dispersed on to Atherton Crescent, and those on foot right wheeled and marched back down the High Street to the saluting base to hear an address by Chief of the Air Staff, followed by three verses of the hymn Abide With Me, and then the National Anthem was sung. Dispersal was at 4.00pm.

I have a list of all those taking part, but will mention but a few:-
Leading was a Police Car, followed by a Bren Gun Carrier,- Banner carried by Sergeants of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, a contingent of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, (the chief marshal was R.S.M .Downey Royal Berks. Regt.).The Band of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, then Armoured Vehicles (various),- American Ambulance, Band of the Royal Marines, Royal Naval Guard, Contingent of the Royal Air Force, Drums of Royal Berkshire Regiment, followed by the Women’s Royal Naval Service, Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, Women’s Auxiliary Air Service, Women’s Land Army, Observer Corps and the Home Guard.

Then all of the local Voluntary services, which included:- Decontamination Squad, A.F S (1 trailer pump), Road Repair Lorry, W.V.S. (2 sitting case cars) and A.R.P messengers. Also included were contingents from the Old Contemptibles and South African War Veterans, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides (with trek carts), First Aid Parties. At the rear were the Kintbury Volunteer groups, AFS, Wardens, etc., and a Bren Gun Carrier.

Quite a big day locally for the war effort, and also for the young man who during the 30’s, would roar his motor cycle from Eddington House, around the Bear Corner, and up the High Street at breakneck speed. He became Air Chief Marshal, (a mediator on tricky occasions between the P.M .and certain of the Military top brass), with a most distinguished war service indeed, the well liked, Lord Portal of Hungerford .


Letters & E-mails

Dear Editor,
I was dismayed to read about the cutting of grass and hedges that are done by the Thames Water Authority at the wrong time of year, in and around Hungerford. Don’t small birds and mammals get a tough enough time finding safe places to nest in as it is? O.k. so the land belongs to the Thames Water Authority, but please let our wildlife thrive and common sense prevail from now onwards.

P.K.

Dear Editor
Help! Is there anyone within shouting distance of Hungerford Area who would be prepared to help me with the Greening Hungerford Campaign?
So far I have been working largely alone but if this exciting project is to really take off; then I now need your help!

This year has been set as an iconic year by climate change scientists and the media alike with so many targets due to be met by 2010′ It didn’t get off with a good start after failure of the Copenhagen talks in Dec 2009 on which so much in terms of Climate Change and Resource Depletion depended. However it has given a clear signal that governments are not capable of resolving these issues and therefore if there is to be progress it is down to ordinary people to make the changes.

The Greening Campaign shows how little changes by us really can make a big difference!

Funding is in place and local councils are behind the scheme. However for it to work the local community must climb on board too. This is why I need you!

I need you now; especially if you are already involved with a local organisation be it a Community Group, Church, Youth group, School, local business etc; in fact just about anyone. (but you do not have to be in one these, even individuals will be welcome).

Please see my web-site http://www.actionforall.org.uk/LVSF/thegreencampaign
for more information or contact The Energy Meister though the Contact us
http://www.actionforall.org.uk/LVSF/   contact facility on the site for more local information.

The Energy Meister

Dear Editor,
I hope this reaches you in time, and is not too long? As a relative newcomer to Hungerford I really only know of ‘’happenings in Hungerford’’ through your ‘What’s On’ and the same on Hungerford’s website page. A friend had read on Thursday in the NWN, (the day it was going to take place) that a 2010+ meeting was taking place that very night. Oh why oh why don’t these people and others get it in What’s On or Town Diary? Any way I went to the meeting to learn more about my new town.

Well Chris Scorey, Jack Williams (doesn’t he talk some lovely old fashioned sense). Henry Oliver of ANOB , Adrian Scrope, our Mayor and the two WBC councillors could all be heard well, and some of the audience at the end. Now I reckon that if you STAND UP you should SPEAK UP, I could see that there was a loop system for deaf aids, but so many of the ‘’speakers’’ didn’t talk into the mike, or thought that they could ‘project’ their voice to one and all (and failed), the inductive loop doesn’t work if you don’t use the mike!

So:- for the Town & Manor man who was just audible ( like all the rest that follow this) I just about heard his objection about surface water polluting Harvey’s Meadow etc, surely Thames Water should be rapped over the knuckles and clean up their act!

The lady who faded away trying (and failing) to explain a very very complicated LDF (being revised though). Regarding the complicated question of allotting house build numbers, If you take the six Rural Service Centres population, make a percentage of these, then their percentage could be the percentage (approx) of the 2100 houses, this might then be the possible number to be built for that ‘’Centre’’!

The representative from Cottrell Close claimed the most fantastic number of (condensed in time) vehicle journeys trying to exit the ‘Close’, come off it, 80 houses does not mean an extra 160 vehicles between 8.30 & 9am. Yes I do agree about the speed between Eddington Hill and the Eastern 30mph (something must be done about this) but how he could claim that the twin fatal accident (it happened 200yds the Newbury side of the limit last November, in the early hours of the morning) was anything to do with ’speed’ past Cottrell Close, it is beyond comprehension. How wonderful that many years ago the then HTC allowed his & other houses in Cottrell Close to be built (NIMBY springs to mind).

The Upper Eddington chap was audible & brief. Again your argument appears to involve Thames Water (HTC if you are reading this ‘’we seem to have a problem’’, or do we?).

The man on the river just the other side of the canal is really so lucky with his wildlife and it would seem to prove that those claiming river pollution are wrong? What is it about walking to school, my two walked each day from one side of Newbury to St. Bart’s, and back again, Newbury’s roads are far busier than ours.

ANOB’s argument seemed to be ‘’if you can see it, you can’t build it’’ and anyway, turn it down because the plan (LDF) is being modified. Goodness me, Chilton Estates proposed (but withdrawn) number of houses is not going to damage Hungerford’s infrastructure, and they are good ‘stewards’. How many other developers put back as much to us? Chilton might probably build more work units for local employment, and spending to our local businesses. Name me another developer who has not just taken the ‘profit’.

Homes do not Hungerford make, it takes all the mix to make the best cake, I’ve lived in
a few places, and I don’t want to leave Hungerford. It simply is really a jewel.

My thanks for printing my ramblings. Yours most sincerely T.O.C

Ed’s comment…..You’re welcome, some food for thought?

Dear Old Codger,
CM.s Letter (last edition) was interesting because it enabled us to see how we appear to strangers (visitors)! I came to Hungerford in 1970 – it was the best move I have ever made. It is good to know that C.M. is pleased to be a resident of Hungerford. One specific point raised is the state of the bus timetables. As Public Transport Representative for Hungerford Town Council, please may I respond?

These days very few country bus services are provided by and financed by bus companies. In fact all bus routes that serve Hungerford are operated by the bus companies under contract to either West Berks or Wiltshire Councils. The reason for this is that rural services need financial support without which they could not operate. Timetable displays are sometimes provided by the bus companies (Wilts & Dorset, Thamesdown & Newbury Buses are examples), but in other cases by one of the above mentioned councils.

A case in point is at the Town Hall bus stop (outside Rayner), where the one facing down the High Street has been provided by Wiltshire Council. This uses a modern presentation which is not liked by everybody. The one facing up the High Street is maintained by Hungerford Town Council (I do this on their behalf). This contains details of times of buses to Newbury, Lambourn and Hungerford Town. I agree it looks amateurish, but I don’t have access to professional resources; at least it is up-to-date. Once again this is a result of the local authorities not having all the funding they would ideally like.

Incidentally, I am always available to provide local public transport information by telephone (685238).

Yours faithfully, Paul Frances


Angela’s Special……….

One of the early signs of Spring in the garden is the appearance of rhubarb. Most people think this is a fruit but it is actually a vegetable, a very versatile food. For instance, I recall one of my friends telling me about her mother’s yummy yogurt and muesli dip to eat with young raw rhubarb sticks and putting stewed rhubarb on top of her cereal. Rhubarb sticky cake and rhubarb crumble are amongst other traditional favorite sweet desserts you can make. This month’s recipe though, is for something a bit different; a savory dish of rhubarb with lentils and potatoes.

Rhubarb with Lentils and Potatoes
225 g lentils cooked or tinned
2-3 medium potatoes peeled and sliced
1garlic clove
a pinch of salt
225g rhubarb sliced and about 200ml stock
50g sugar

Simmer potatoes with cooked lentils until potatoes are tender, remove from heat and drain. Simmer the rhubarb in stock until tender add sugar and salt to taste. Finally mix with the potatoes and lentils and heat thoroughly, serve hot with rice or bread.

To prepare the cooked lentils: Soak dried lentils overnight and then simmer in water for about 50 minutes or until tender, or cook in a pressure cooker for five minutes.
Recipe provided by HEAT (Hungerford, Enviromental , Action, Team) www.hungerford.uk.net/HEAT/


5 a Day

What really constitutes your Five-A-Day?

The Government have for some time been encouraging us to eat more fruit and vegetables via their ‘Five A Day’ campaign. Quite rightly their thinking is that if we eat more fruit and vegetables not only will we be increasing our fibre and vitamins but are less likely to fill up on junk food.

The problem is how we interpret the Five A Day. For example, many people will count chips, baked beans, canned fruit (in syrup!) dried fruit and fruit juice as part of their quota, and in extreme cases, parents are adding raisins to Coca pops or making banana pancakes, in the belief that at least their children are getting their ‘five a day’.

Let’s examine this more closely ……………..I’m not saying that potatoes, baked beans, canned and dried fruit and juice are worse than crisps, cakes and biscuits, I just want you to think about better ways of getting your five a day.

• Potatoes are a starchy food, with some vitamin C – destroyed by frying, plenty of fibre if you eat the skins, but not a great deal of nutrients, the same goes for parsnips which are high on the Glycemic Index. You would do better to have sweet potatoes (high in vitamin A) or at least bake them in their skins and serve with pesto rather than heaps of butter.
• Baked beans (made with haricot beans) are often in a high sugar, high salt sauce which negates the health benefit of the pulse. Pulses such as chick peas, butter beans and haricot beans are very healthy when added to soups and stews or pureed as a humous or made into bean pate.
• Why have canned fruit laden with sugary syrup when there is a variety of natural fresh fruit. You can always bake apples or poach pears, or make a berry compote yourself. Even canned fruit in natural juice is no substitute for the vitamins and fibre found in its fresh counterpart.
• Dried fruit can be healthy, especially unsulphured apricots and figs, if used sparingly but raisins and dates are very high in natural sugar. Blueberries and strawberries would be a better choice. Less sugary fresh fruit is better e.g. apples, kiwi, pears, oranges, and higher in vitamin C.

In our quest to obtain our five a day, we may be forgetting other healthy foods such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, herbs such as parsley and basil, brown rice, porridge, pulses in the form of humus, olive oil, natural live yoghurt and omega 3 rich eggs.

Adding token pineapple to pizza, or a limp lettuce to a burger bun does not make it healthy. We need a variety of healthy foods as mentioned above, as well as our vital greens ……our reds, oranges and purples for that matter!

By Samantha Silvester Ch.Ed MBANT

www.whatseatingyou.co.uk at The Wantage Natural Therapy Centre


Blasts from the Past

From the Parish magazine dated December 1871.

“ On December 14th, a meeting of the seat-holders of the Parish Church, was held in the National School Room, to consider the want of accommodation of the poor in the Parish Church. Besides the Vicar and Churchwardens, there were present the Rev. T.H. Michell, Messrs Dunn, Astley. Alexander, Barker, Beard, Barrow, Crook, Godwin, Low, Osmond, Platt, Walton. Wooldridge and Wren. The Vicar briefly stated the object of the Meeting and invited discussion. He took occasion to observe that while he did not think it desirable that the seats in the Parish Church should be generally unappropriated, he should be very glad to se the seats on each side of the middle aisle thrown open if those to whom they have been allotted would consent to accept pews in other parts of the Church instead of them. This however was an arrangement which could not immediately be carried into effect, and in the meantime he suggested that a Service should be held on Sunday afternoons, at which the seats should be open to all. In order to meet the expense of this extra Service, the Rev. T.H. Michell had kindly offered an annual contribution of £25.00. After some conversation the following resolution was proposed by Mr J.P. Crook, and seconded by Mr Walker, and carried unanimously. “Resolved, that it is expedient that an Afternoon Sunday Service be held at the Parish Church, at which pews in the Church should be free and open to Parishioners generally.””
It was suggested that some more room may be gained if the pulpit was put further back and the Desk placed on the other side of the Chancel. This seemed to recommend itself to the meeting, and the Vicar expressed his willingness to bear the expense of the alterations”.

“ Soup Kitchen—A certain quantity of Soup etc. is conveyed from the Kintbury Soup Kitchen every day by the kind arrangement of Mrs Dunn, for the benefit of the Hungerford poor.”

Monday, Soup 1d a pint.
Tuesday, Rice Pudding 1d a pound.
Wednesday, Meat 8d a pound,
Thursday, Soup 1d a pint.
Friday, Plum Pudding 2d a pound,
Saturday, Meat 8d a pound.

Tickets can be obtained every Monday Morning at 9.30 at the Vicarage. The distribution of Soup etc. is daily at 12.30, in the Old Corn Exchange by kind permission of Mr Hoskings”.

More from the past next issue.         Fred Bailey


Legal Spot

Have you heard of a Notary Public and, even if you have, do you know who they are and what they do?

In general terms a Notary Public is an officer of the law who deals with documents for use abroad. If for example you are buying or selling a property overseas you are likely to need to execute the paperwork in England in the presence of a Notary who will authenticate the documents under his or her signature and official seal so as to make them acceptable to the relevant authorities in the country where the property is located.

Since 1533, when Henry VIII terminated the power of the Pope to appoint notaries, the power has been vested in the Crown and then devolved to the Archbishop of Canterbury who makes all such appointments today through the Court of Faculties.

In order to qualify as a Notary Public it is necessary to have a law degree or to have qualified as a solicitor or barrister and then to take a 2 year Postgraduate Diploma in Notarial Practice from the University of Cambridge and complete practical training with an existing Notary.

Perhaps these tough educational requirements are the reason why there are less than 900 Notaries currently practising in England and Wales!

Once qualified a Notary will register his or her seal with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that they can authenticate or legalize notarial acts for use in those countries which have signed up to the Hague Convention. For the countries which have not signed up the Notary usually needs to register with the Embassy of the country concerned.

It is inevitable that despite promising last week not to use ‘legalese’ this article is full of it, simply because notarial work is steeped not only in history but also complicated legal requirements.

The good news for readers in and around Hungerford is that you now have your very own Notary, Richard Drake, at DHC and he is here to help you with your international or domestic needs.

DHC

Church Bells

Bellringing at St Lawrence – Part 8

The bells of St Lawrence can be heard all over the town, to varying degrees. It is not always the proximity to the church which determines the audibility of the bells. You can often hear them better in Tesco’s car park than the High Street and sometimes on the outskirts of Hungerford but not in places within the town. It depends on many factors – surrounding buildings, other noise, your altitude in relation to the church tower and even the weather (the sound of the bells travels best on cold frosty mornings). The same is true in any town. Nevertheless, there can be few people living in the UK who are not familiar with the sound of church bells. You may know that our method of ringing the bells is unique to these isles. To many people all over the world, it is the sound of England. However, although bell-ringing is associated with the Church, since the very early days it has been mainly a secular activity.

From around the 14th century, bells have been hung in church towers in England. Originally mounted on simple levers pulled by a rope, the bell was caused to swing and chime against the clapper. If a tower had more than one bell they were on occasions (such as a wedding) all rung together. The further a bell swings, the louder the sound, so strong local men were paid to ring. It was hard work, but much enjoyed by participants. Thus bell ringing became a sport and took on a life of its own, separate from the Church.

It is possible that if bell ringing had not been a secular activity it may not have survived the religious upheavals of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Reformation, which simplified worship, banned the ringing of bells for religious purposes. Later, during the Puritan era, bell ringing was regarded as both music and a sport, making it a doubly unsuitable activity for the Sabbath. Many bells were lost or destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries. In the Civil War, more were melted down for cannon and under Cromwell, churches were banned from having more than two bells.

Nevertheless bell ringing endured. During the 17th century bell foundries flourished and many new bells were installed. Developments were made in the technique of bell hanging, resulting in the full wheel system which is used today. In cities, ringers formed societies, some of which still exist.

Bell ringers gained a reputation for rowdy behaviour. An 18th century dictionary quotes the word ‘ringer’ as slang for drunkard. There were frequently clashes between ringers and the clergy and some churchmen thought ringing should be banned altogether. Hopefully, bell ringers are now regarded quite differently. In the next edition I will elaborate on the evolution of the bell ringer from anti-social fellow to well-adjusted member of the community – and also show how some things never change.

Sarah Chatters