Issue 125

1st December
1st March 2015

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

Front Cover by Micky Thompson

Ho Ho Ho. Yes it’s that time of year again, as if you are ever allowed to forget. This editions cover picture is of the Christmas symbol of the joy of giving, which means naturally, buying, but don’t we love it.

The picture was taken during the Hungerford Victorian Extravaganza a couple of years ago. Let’s hope for the continued success of previous years.

Before the next issue the New Year will have come, and with it the promise of new hopes. Looking back, memories are often triggered by photographs and the pictures from this coming celebration will be the treasured memories of years to come, so don’t let them die with the digital phone or camera you took them with, print the best ones out to keep and future generations will have those memories too.

Message from the Chairman of CHAIN

Well that was a lovely Summer and Autumn and now we have Christmas to look forward to with the Switch on of the Lights on Sunday 30th November, Victorian Extravaganza on Friday 12th December and the Mayor’s Carol Service on Sunday 21st December. We are very lucky to have so much going on in our town and our Christmas Lights are without doubt the best in the south of England.

Chain are very lucky to have so many wonderful volunteers but we can always use more so if you feel you have any spare time even if it’s only an hour or two a week please contact us. You can either use your own car, drive the Handybus or the Chairman Vehicle, so either contact the Chain Office on 683727 (9.00 – 11.00 Mon-Fri), myself on 683302 or email

The Trustees of Chain meet bi-monthly and are elected each year at the AGM. If you have anything you would like discussed about Chain please contact me and if I can’t give you an answer I will put it on the Agenda for the next meeting.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Best Wishes, Janette Kersey



As I write this the Town’s Christmas lights have not yet been switched on, but I must say how bright it is now to enter the town via Bridge Street. I do hope that the new businesses will thrive and if we ever get that pedestrian crossing there I am sure that will encourage foot traffic and as anyone knows passing pedestrians are always possible customers.

Of course there is still the dirty white elephant of that derelict building, although I saw that there is an official looking ‘’Builders Site’’ notice on the boarded up window. I was wondering if that is just another ploy by the owner, but when I mentioned this to a man that ‘’knows’’ things, he had heard that it had changed ownership yet again and was in the throes of ‘’planning’’! Wouldn’t that be absolutely wonderful if it were all true?

I did promise you that there would be an article on how I got on with my change over e-mail and internet provider form BT this issue. It has to be held over to the next issue as my BT contract doesn’t finish before December 3rd and I was certainly not going to pay any contract out penalty! However my new e-mail address is working well (see below).

As I am one of the increasing group of people with no replaceable income (Old age pensioner) I am also going to change my mobile pay-as-you-go phone provider (currently Vodafone), as thanks to one of the official watchdog bodies who have made the phone companies lower their roaming charges, Vodafone have passed on increased call charges to us PAYG owners. From what I saw, that’s now .35p a minute (7shillings), I shall be changing to one that is just 10p a minute (still 2 shillings). I remember that when I first started work an hours pay was 1s 1d an hour, that’s 5p in today’s money! Will let you know how that went as well.

Another year flown by and it’s time to wish you all a Good Christmas and New Year. I don’t use the word ‘’Happy’’ as for a lot of people it is not a happy time, but very sad and lonely, but Spring will come eventually!

Have you looked at our website lately because if you do we now have the ‘’mini viewer ‘’ of What’s On (Town Diary) on the front home page so you can now see events almost without a click! If you make it scroll down and choose an event for more details, click on it and it takes you to the full What’s On. There you will find your chosen event highlighted in a white bar with red text (seemple!). Local Organisers with an event, get in touch with me and be put up there for FREE, everything on our website is done for FREE. Please look at the letter below, just goes to prove !

Thanks & Best Wishes David Piper 01488 683152

Letters, articles and adverts should be sent to me by the 7th of the month preceding
publication, i.e.7th February for the issue on March 1st. but don’t leave it until the
last minute, there might not be space.

If you send something to me I try to acknowledge
within 3 days. No reply from me, then I have not got it, so please re-send.

Hungerford Mayor

As we approach the Winter it is a time to reflect on what sort of year 2014 has been. From a personal perspective, it has been a special one in that I was given the honour of wearing the Mayoral chain.

In the role, one receives many invitations to events that showcase the enormous contribution that the voluntary sector makes in our country. In so many ways Chain embodies the very essence of our town. Our voluntary sector is, I believe, what makes Hungerford not just a pretty market town but a vibrant, living breathing one.

Just imagine how much duller our lives would be without events such as the Victorian Evening, the Literary Festival, Tutti Day, the Carnival and our fabulous Christmas lights (not to mention our sports clubs and other leisure clubs and associations); and yet it is only through the enormous efforts of those who really care about our community and freely give their time that these things occur at all.

Of course, volunteers get involved in many different activities and for anyone considering a foray into local politics 2015 could be the opportunity that you were looking for.

Next year is not only a General Election year but also a District and (far more importantly) Town Council election. Hungerford Town Council is made up of 15 (though currently one vacancy) volunteers who throw themselves into work for the community.

We are not a political council so party disputes are not a factor – that is not to say we don’t have some robust discussions but the one thing that unites us all is the wish to make Hungerford a better place in which to live.

If you, kind reader, find that the Christmas spirit stays with you into 2015 and are interested in joining a busy and proactive band of councillors please feel free to contact me or Claire Barnes our Town Clerk.

Also don’t miss out on purchasing tickets for our Grand Prize Draw which will take place on Saturday 13th December. Tickets are on sale in the High St and in the Town Council office.

In the meantime may I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Dennis Benneyworth
Mayor of Hungerford

Chain’s Page

CHAIN is helping in our community.

We provide transport to Doctors, Dentists, Chiropodists, Hospital appointments, and more. We ask clients to make a donation towards the cost (at least 40p per mile please). Our drivers collect their clients (from home) and escort them to the appropriate clinic, stay with them and then take them back home. Please contact the office on 683727 open 9 to 11am Monday to Friday

CHAIN own a ‘’Chairman Vehicle’’ (currently a Vauxhall Combo estate), which will hold someone in a wheelchair plus a couple of passengers. The ”Chairman” can be booked through the Office and we will either provide a driver or train a family member to drive the vehicle themselves. We ask clients to make a donation towards the cost (at least 40p per mile please).

CHAIN runs the HANDYBUS which is owned by West Berkshire Council.
Our team of drivers take people on shopping trips, Hungerford Market day and to Newbury etc., to the Hydrotherapy Pool in Swindon, and trips to other clubs, also to the CHAIN Lunches in Croft Hall and the CHAIN Pub Lunches.

CHAIN organise Lunches in the Croft Hall bi-monthly, and with a team of helpers dish up a lovely hot meal to about 30 people every other month. Please contact the office or look out for notices in our notice board under the railway bridge, if you are interested in coming contact must be made to the Organiser. This information can be found in CHAIN MAIL.

There are organised monthly CHAIN Pub Lunches , the office can give you details, or look out for notices in our notice board under the railway bridge. We use the Handybus and give you a door to door service! Contact must be made to the Organiser

The CHAIN Office is open Monday – Friday 9 – 11am and the volunteers who man the office are there to help you with any bookings or other queries. 01488 683727

CHAIN produce a quarterly magazine (free) called CHAIN MAIL, packed with lots of useful (and useless) information! CHAIN MAIL is delivered to all houses in Hungerford and close area. Yet another dedicated band of CHAIN volunteers do the deliveries, please look on the back page for Distribution Details.

I hope this gives you all a flavour of what CHAIN does for you in our community. It is run as a charity by Trustees whose names and contact numbers are available on the notice board.

CHAIN always need volunteers, as car drivers, for our special wheelchair vehicle and the Handybus, or as a volunteer in the office. So if you have a few hours to spare then please contact the office on 683727 open 9 to 11am Monday to Friday, or click ‘Contacts’ for a full list.

Thank you


CHAIN was established in 1977 and has grown into an effective group of volunteers that cares and gives a variety of help to those in need. Membership is open to all Hungerford residents interested in furthering its objectives.
All CHAIN volunteers are automatically recorded as members.
In 2003 CHAIN was awarded one of the first QUEEN’S GOLDEN JUBILEE AWARDS for voluntary service in the community.

The group’s prime objective is to undertake voluntary work and related activities for the benefit of people who are sick or disabled or who are otherwise in need – be they young, middle aged or elderly – living in the town or rural district of Hungerford. As an extension of their primary aim, CHAIN offers advice and guidance to people willing to undertake voluntary service and assists them with the provision of voluntary work by putting them in touch with individuals or with voluntary or statutory organisations seeking help.

A small committee is elected at an annual meeting (open to all Hungerford residents) overseeing the policy and day-to-day management.


Bits 1

Also on this page……Help……..Donate a light?………Food Bank……..Xmas Tree Mulching

NWN Christmas Parcels for the Over 80’s

If you have celebrated your 80th birthday this year or will do so before the end of the year, please contact us on either of the telephone numbers given below. Similarly, if you know of anyone who is now 80 years old or will be by year end, let us know.

Finally, if you know of anyone over 80 but for whatever reason is no longer with us, again give us a call. We really need to keep our list up to date so that nobody misses out.

David & Janet Long, Coordinators Over 80’s Christmas Parcels for Chain and NWN
Tel. No 01488 682931 Mobile. 07788 868673




CHAIN desperately needs some more volunteers to work in the office. Hours are 09a.m.– 11a.m., Monday to Friday, to take calls from clients and arrange drivers to take them to their appointments.

Could be weekly or alternate weeks or just as stand in for absences.

Please call the office number on 01488 683727 during office hours and give your details and we will contact you. Alternatively please leave your details on the office answer phone.”

CHAIN would also like to find a volunteer to care for the operation of our Wheelchair Vehicle. Taking care of a small amount of paperwork, some vehicle cleaning and car washing, arranging servicing, road fund renewal etc.

Not a great deal of work but vital to the smooth operation of the vehicle.

Contact David Thorpe on 01488 685080.”


Floodlighting at St Lawrence’s

Once again you are invited to sponsor the floodlighting of the church each evening from Advent Sunday until mid-January 2014 (or other special dates on request), perhaps in memory of friends and family or to commemorate a special occasion. To ensure floodlighting of the church on your chosen date(s) we ask for a minimum donation of £15 per date. If you pay tax and would like to gift aid your donation we would be very grateful.

If you would like to sponsor the floodlighting, please come along to one of our services and speak to a Churchwarden.

Thank you for your support.



West Berkshire Foodbank supports local people in crisis.

Donations of long-life or tinned foods will be gratefully received at any of the Churches. If your workplace or community group is interested in hosting a collection point, please contact or

The Trussell Trust, who support & resource a network of Foodbanks across the country, recently tweeted this poem written by a client who visited a Foodbank in Bradford.

Thank you
Thank you for your friendly welcoming tone,
It takes away the feeling of being alone.
Thank you for your friendly smile,
It makes me feel life is worthwhile.
Thank you for your earnest, godly prayers
It makes me forget the bigoted stares.
Thank you for the food today
It stops my need to throw my life away.
Most of all I thank you for being there
In a City at the moment which doesn’t seem to care!



Hungerford 41 Club (ex-Round Tablers)

will be doing Xmas tree mulching outside the Town Hall,

10:00 – 1:00 Sunday 4th January

with proceeds from all donations going to local charities.

Jim of Broadmead Estate Services Ltd,
01488 686004




Bits 2

Also on this page……..Our MP ………..Extravaganza………

Sir Robert de Hungerford

You will find him, or rather what remains of his stone effigy, in St Lawrence’s Church straight across from the porch door. Once a finely carved Knight in all his splendour, now a weather-beaten featureless piece of stone that none the less holds an intriguing mystery.

When the original Knight Templar returned from Jerusalem they brought back with them huge quantities of treasure recovered from under Temple Mount. This wealth was concealed at various locations and marked by using the Chess Board as a map. Each site represented by an effigy of a Knight on the appropriate square. Those Knights on black squares are depicted with crossed legs as in Temple Church London; also in St Mary’s Church at Aldworth where the nine badly mutilated stone effigies are said to represent the De La Beche family. Before St Mary’s underwent extensive renovation there was in the now closed niche in the south wall of the church an identical copy of Sir Robert De La Beche, which acted as a sort of ‘post-it-note’ to passing Templars of the day.

After the renovation this second Sir Robert became surplus to requirement and was lost! … or is he really now in the guise of Sir Robert de Hungerford?

St Mary’s is well worth a visit (afternoon tea on a Wednesday) to see the stone effigies which are known as the ‘Aldworth Giants’.

The treasures have lain undisturbed since the twelfth century, but neither Sir Robert will tell you how to find them.

‘All that is wanted is the key and if thou canst comprehend these things thou knowest enough’.

Geoffrey (Roy) Morgan


Member of Parliament’s Message

The Office of Rail Regulation has recently published figures for rail travel around the country. The highest number of journeys outside of London was in the South East, where 282,000,000 separate journeys were undertaken. This is far in excess of the next busiest region, East Anglia, with a paltry 179,000,000 trips.

What is even more interesting, is that the number of journeys to, from and within the South East has nearly doubled over the past 15 years. Therefore, I am pleased that a golden age of investment in our railways is underway. A new link to Heathrow from the west is to be constructed, Crossrail is progressing and around 650 miles of track are being electrified on the Western Mainline.
As was reinforced at a meeting I convened in Hungerford with National Rail and First Great Western earlier in the year, with more of us in West Berkshire opting for the train, more must be done to ensure a better customer experience.

That is why, in my response to the recent Great Western Specification Consultation, I called for more frequent and regular services to cope with our growing population, increased economic activity and greater leisure demands, I also called for electrification beyond Newbury Station to Bedwyn, key for rail users using Kintbury and Hungerford stations. In the event of electrification to Bedwyn not going ahead in the current program, it is vital we have a guarantee that direct services to Kintbury and Hungerford will continue, and that current services that change at Reading, do not require a second change at Newbury.

Should any constituents require my assistance on this, or any other matter, I can be reached on 01635 551070, via e-mail at or on Twitter @RichardBenyonMP.



December 12th …Hungerford Victorian Extravaganza

………………heralds the arrival of Christmas in the town, as though by magic it is transformed into a wonderland of delights; the High Street and Bridge Street filled with Side-Shows, a Helter-Skelter, a Big Wheel, Steam Engines, Fair-Ground Organs and rides.

The day starts early with local dignitaries in Victorian garb braving the elements, and partaking of a large breakfast on the steps of the Town Hall. Pedestrian barriers go up; the lorries start to arrive with all the equipment, shops do their last minute titivation to their Victorian window displays.

At 5.00pm the official opening takes place with the cutting of the tape and the bands start up. The Scottish Pipe Band, the Hungerford Town Band and others, not forgetting the music of the Victorian Organs, bring the evening to life. The bustling street scene has Punch and Judy shows, Stilt Walkers, Clowns, Jugglers and especially for the children, Father Christmas. Add the smells of roasting chestnuts and it completes the feeling of having gone back in time.

Many shops will be open with their staff in Victorian dress, some giving out mulled wine and mince pies. Many local charities will be there with a variety of stalls and tombola’s.

At 7.00pm the Grand Parade starts in Bridge Street and progresses up the High Street with the mighty Steam Engines, the skirl of the Pipes, the triumphant blast of the Brass Bands, all the street performers; and as a bonus, Father Christmas with the year’s Carnival Queen.

The evening comes to an end with a Firework Finale opposite the Town Hall at 9.00pm.



Hungerford Surgery

There have been some changes at the Surgery and I am now Patient Services Co-ordinator with Sian Robinson taking over as Office Manager.

One of my new jobs will be doing this article for Chain but I would also like to try and set up a Patient Participation Group. This would be run by patients and would be useful for the Practice and Patients. We had a Friends of Hungerford Surgery Group for many years which fundraised for us and held social events. Things have moved on from this and now
many practices have established patient participation groups. Establishing such a group helps:

To develop a partnership with patients.
To discover what a range of patients think about services and to establish their priorities.
To provide a platform to test and modify ideas and plans.

There are inevitably potential problems but by involving everyone in the Primary Care Team these can be solved.

Develop a clear plan for setting up and developing the group and also establishing clear goals for the group.

Good recruitment is essential. The right choice of facilitator and the right mix of members in the group are the most important factors in the success of the group.

The ideas and views of patients must be treated with merit. Otherwise, it will be very clear that the group is just a token gesture.

It is up to the group meetings to modify any ideas in terms of practicality and potential benefit.

So if you are interested in forming this group then please contact me on 01488 682507 or by email

Janette Kersey
Patient Services Co-ordinator

Virtual Museum

OPEN AIR SWIMMING POOL                                 

It is 50 years since the open-air swimming pool opened in 1964. It gave great enjoyment to so many Hungerfordians for 33 years until 1997.

Prior to the opening of the open-air swimming pool, local people had used a variety of places as a swimming venue. “The Broads” was a length of the river Dun just east of what is still known as the “swing bridge” north of the railway station. It was set aside by the Town and Manor in the 1930s, and provided a straight stretch of about 50 yards of river swimming. Separate changing rooms for boys and girls were provided. Jack Williams also recalls that a less “official” area for swimming was in the canal just above Marsh Lock, where there was regular swimming, always attended by the utmost decorum, with boys and girls changing areas carefully preserved. He remembers that despite the canal being stagnant, the water was clean and much warmer than The Broads.

When the carnivals restarted in 1953, the main aim was to raise funds for a new open-air swimming pool. It took some years to arrange, but the pool was built near the new Priory estate and opened in 1964 under the chairmanship of Mrs Becky Kennedy. The Trustees were Col Jackie Ward (of Chilton Lodge), Jack Williams, Philip Spackman and Dr Humphrey Hope. With the exception of the first few months, it was run for its whole duration by Mr & Mrs Ken and Liz Hall.

The pool was near the football ground, the children’s playground, the War Memorial Avenue and the cycle speedway track.

The popularity of the swimming-pool varied according to the weather, but on good days it was enjoyed by very large numbers of children and adults. In addition to the main pool with a small diving platform, there was a small toddlers’ pool, and later on a large area of grass was made available for sunbathing or playing ball games and table tennis.

The Hungerford Swimming Club was very popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They ran a series of very successful “Water Carnivals”, starting in 1966, an event that featured the “Bath Tub Race”! In 1967 there was the “Tyre Race”, and in 1968 “regardless of cost or risk to life and limb” they held the “Bicycle Race in water”, and “the Perils of the Greasy Pole” and “the horrifying, death defying Pranks on a Plank”!

The pool closed in 1997 and the land used for a skateboard park.

For more on this or any other aspect of Hungerford’s fascinating history, visit the Hungerford Virtual Museum –

Hugh Pihlens


The Old Codger

The Old Codger………

Hello, I’m back, did you miss me or did Grumpy do a good fill in?

The Editor has cut me a little short due to the lovely letter coming in (below). Just goes to prove how nice some people are and how publicity quite often goes towards success, David is always banging on (rightly so) about the lack of co-operation in producing the What’s On and making free use on CHAIN’s website… , because you just don’t bother to send in your events or pleas for help, volunteers etc…

So our Prime Minister has woken up and at long last started to get around to some promises made to get him into office. Well us older folk have longer memories and maybe, just maybe Nigel might be the one to turn to?

I am going to be rather interested in David’s research into a ‘pay as you go’ mobile, because at 10 p a minute that equals 2038 minutes (= nearly 6 minutes a day) when you pay BT £203.88 line rental alone, and that’s not including calls!!! Yes I know you can get a 10% discount but many pensioners can not afford lump sums like that. With that same company you can get 500 minutes a month for £10 a month (£120 for the year), that = approximately 16minutes a day for the month! If your friend joins the same mobile company then calls to them are FREE, I say that calls for a glass of water by your side when you make a call for a quick chat!

Did they really start to dismantle that CCTV camera on the corner of the High Street/Church Street and then put it all back together when neither West Berks or our own Town council refused to pay, or were they just renewing some more paving stones?

What a shame (or was it?) that Hungerford did not have a Town Fireworks display, mind you I saw that the successful firework night organised by the Lions Club at the Newbury Racecourse only lasted for 20minutes. Our neighbours went to Chilton Foliat,I wonder what that was like?

Thank you for reading, and my e-mail address is

Gardening by Stacy


The approach of a New Year is an exciting time when we can look forward and anticipate new things to come. The same is true in the gardening world when new trends, colours and plant introductions will arrive in the Spring. I’m not a great lover of Winter with its bleakness and lack of colour in the garden. I know there are plants which will flower over the winter period but for me it doesn’t quite do it. So the thought of all these bright, vibrant blooms for next spring and summer really excite me.

Hydrangeas have enjoyed a revival in popularity having previously been relegated to grandma’s garden. Hydrangea L.A. Blooming has blushes of pink, lilac and blue flowers a la shabby chic style no matter what the pH of your soil. They do best in a cooler, slightly shady spot in the garden with a moist soil.

If you are thinking about scent and summer colour , not to mention encouraging bees, why not look out for Lavander stoechas Anouk White- a stunning French lavender with deep,deep purple flower head with the customary winged tips in white. It will enjoy any sunny spot in your garden.

I love the tall spires of the Foxglove and there is a new Digitalis called Digitalis Foxlight Ruby Glow which has flowers which face outwards to show off their bold ruby and gold interiors rather than drooping down as normal. These Foxgloves will grow in sun or shade and will do well in a container.

Heucheras are always welcome in any planting scheme as they provide excellent ground cover and dramatic coloured foliage. New Heuchera introductions- the aptly named Little Cutie Series have all the features you would expect from Heucheras but in miniature. There is Heuchera Little Cutie “Blondie” with caramel coloured leaves and creamy yellow flowers, H. L. C. “Coco” with deep purple to black leaves and pale pink flowers, H. L.C. “Sugar berry” with blush pink/silver leaves and dark veining topped by light pink flowers and H. L .C. Peppermint with green and silver mottled leaves and white flowers deepening to pink, to name some of this series. I think they would do really well in containers due to their compact size and would make a great underplanting to a larger specimen shrub.

Hemerocallis- the Daylily- is often overlooked as most people are unaware that they come in any other colour than yellow. There is in fact a whole host of daylilies to choose from- ranging from cream through to pink, red, orange and purple. Hemerocallis Little Anna Rosa has evergreen foliage and fragrant sugar plum pink flowers. As with all daylilies it will continue to flower all summer if it is deadheaded. A general fertiliser in spring will encourage it to grow well and dividing the plant every 2-3 years allows the rhizomes to produce a good plant year on year.

Well now that my mouth is watering with all those garden goodies, I’d better make some spaces in the borders!

Nature Notes by Hawkeye

Awesome Autumn

I think autumn started in August this year and is still going strong as I write.

I opened my bedroom curtains on August 25th and was suddenly struck by the mass of red berries on my Hawthorn bushes. It was such a shock I recorded it on the calendar and noticed the inscription on the calendar read “late summer holiday (UK)”.

In the olden days we used to say this was a sign that we are going to have a bad winter. Now we say we had a mild winter, wet spring, dry summer and an Indian Summer in the first two weeks of September. In other words the unusual weather was perfect for the formation of Hawthorn Berries.

Unfortunately they are the staple diet for our winter thrushes, Redwings and Fieldfare who were not due to arrive until October; and of course the berries have now gone over.

Recently I took a holiday in Norfolk to see the autumn migration and do some sight-seeing. I was amazed to see Little Egrets everywhere. These “white herons” must be testimony to climate change. In my view they should be in Africa or at least in the Mediterranean area. Rumour has it that the Little Egrets cousins, Cattle Egrets have arrived in the UK. They will probably appear on the Hungerford Marshes soon.

Incidentally Norfolk is a stronghold for Marsh Harriers and visitors are almost guaranteed a sighting. Some bird books state they are resident here but other books say they migrate and are autumn visitors. Norfolk is well worth a visit for nature lovers. The A11 has just been made into a dual carriageway which shortens the journey time. And several people have left bequests to buy Nature Reserves. Thus the character of the North Norfolk will be preserved for ever. Although it was quite funny to see one car park full of shingle and a 30 MPH sign just above the gravel. I was told no-one admits to owning the land. The gravel was deposited by a “storm surge”.

A Success Story
One unusual item to report is that this was a record year for Barn Owl chicks. In my view the unusual weather patterns were a factor. However the abundance of food is critical and we think there has been an increase in the population of their prey – Short Tailed Field Voles. However I was surprised to see Barn Owls take Starlings on the BBC’s Autumn Watch.

Two owl boxes I made and help monitor had a second brood this year. The parents are feeding young in autumn. Strangely this has caused ornithologists a real problem or dilemma. Should we interfere with Nature and feed these chicks? As Barn Owls are on the Amber List I have volunteered to feed them chicken wings at dawn on three days a week. It makes me feel good and I see a lot more wild life! The old adage get up early if you want to enjoy wildlife is true.

One nest box was supposed to be a “bolt box” for the male. We think males have declined so badly because the mother evicts the father when she is feeding young.

Finally I think the hottest Halloween on record must affect our wildlife.



Hungerford Library

As part of Library Fest in the spring, we had 2 workshops – tile-making with Diana Barraclough and Typographic art with Robert Strange. The results of both these workshops are now on display. Come and see. Many thanks to both artists and all those who contributed.

We had a great response to the Hungerford Literary Festival Children’s Writing Competition. Well done to all those who submitted their fantastic stories and poems and congratulations to the winners.

We offer several FREE courses and events at the library:
IT Lessons for beginners of any age. Six weekly 1:1 sessions tailored for the needs of the individual student. Don’t be afraid if you know nothing about computers! Our excellent volunteers will take you through whatever you would like to know. Please contact the library on 01488 682660 for further information or to book a place.
RhymeTime sessions are on Wednesday mornings at 11:00 for children under 4.
Craft and Chat takes place every Friday morning from 10-12. Come along to this free session and bring your knitting or other crafts, enjoy a chat and a cup of tea while sharing your interests with others.
Art Group meets every Tuesday, 2-4pm. If you are interested in art and would like to share your skill or learn something new come along. It is not teacher led, but it is a good opportunity to enjoy your hobby in the company of others.
Book Group meets first Friday of the month at 5:30.
If you are interested in any of these activities please contact Hungerford Library on 01488 682660,

WiFi is free to library members.

We have regular half term activities for children and other events for grown-ups too! Check our website or watch for posters in the window.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Library Services please contact the library. We are particularly interested in volunteers for our At Home service providing a valuable link to readers unable to get to their own branch.

Do you find it difficult to visit your local library because of age, disability or other special circumstances? You might benefit from our At Home library service where a library volunteer will choose and deliver books or audiobooks to your home. Contact the At Home Library Service on 01635 519827 or email

Check out our on-line services for access to audiobooks, ebooks and emagazines, as well as ordering and renewing books.

Steam by Tony Bartlett

Steam railways update

N.B. more details and illustrations of trains reported on in this article can be found in the Steam Special section of this web-site on the Sightings page wherever a reference of the form Sighting: dd/mm/yyyy is quoted.

Our local line (the ‘Berks & Hants’) has seen the lion’s share of steam train activity in this area in the previous quarter, as well as a diesel-hauled Cathedrals Express at the height of the hot summer weather (Sighting: 16/08/2014). However ‘Tornado’ brought the Devon Belle through here in typical Bank Holiday rain (Sighting: 25/08/2014) – no fire risk to concern local people joining the train at Newbury!

In early September, Pacifics ‘Tangemere’ (Sighting: 05/09/2014) and ‘Braunton’ (Sighting: 13/09/2014) performed well on the Salisbury line – their old home ground, before we had the (eagerly) anticipated return visit from the Belmond British Pullman on 24th Sept. By then we were basking in our second summer of the year and the train made a memorable sight at speed crossing the Marsh in the early evening, illuminated by the golden glow of the setting sun – giving me an equally spectacular photograph having had to risk pointing the camera in the direction of the sun (Sighting: 24/09/2014).

Of course the ‘highs’, both for the participant and the observer, of interesting steam excursions running successfully in bright and cheery weather are wont to be balanced out by those occasions where things didn’t quite go to plan. A case in point the next day being the train from Oxford to South Devon which had to be cancelled at the last minute when the diesel in charge on the first leg to Westbury failed and couldn’t be replaced. So the LNER A4 class loco ‘Bittern’ waiting to take over was unable to perform in one of its final trips before being withdrawn for major overhaul. In this case it was for once a ‘low’ to see it pottering through Newbury with only its support coach travelling back to base at Southall (Sighting: 25/09/2014).

Vintage Trains ran one of their GW-themed excursions, the Cotswold Explorer hauled by Castle class no. 5043 ‘Earl of Mount Edgcumbe’ (a former director of the GWR, original name Barbary Castle) early in October, seen in heavy rain crossing the Vale of White Horse (Sighting: 04/10/2014). Mysteriously their ‘Western Streak’ excursion with A4 loco ‘Bittern’ appeared to be cancelled but was reported as being seen in the later stage of its journey back to Tyseley.

Looking ahead the plans show 4 steam excursions in our area in the run up to Christmas – the usual mix of shopping and carol service trips suited to the short days of winter, with the prospect of some steamy displays in the cold air. The Cathedrals Express on the 16th Dec. to Bath, double-headed by Black Five locos, is definitely expected to pass through Hungerford, and we may also see the duo with a similar train on the 2nd Dec.

Moving into the New Year, after a slow start we might expect to see our first special in Hungerford on 18th April – a Dartmouth Express hauled by BR Standard Pacific ‘Britannia’. The 4 trains on our line in the outlook period also include a British Pullman on 13th May, and on 28th April the ‘Great Britain’ returns to our route on the first leg of its 9-day tour hauled by a GWR King class locomotive. Some very exciting prospects on our doorstep!

In all there should be 10 steam specials passing through our area up to the end of May 2015, and the good news is that Reading is very much on the map again, although Basingstoke-Salisbury will continue to feature, more so than Didcot-Swindon as the GW electrification work proceeds in earnest. Perhaps their loss will be our gain!

More details are available from the Steam Special section of the Chain Mail web site.

Tony Bartlett

Roger Day

Kennet Valley at War Trust wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

The Kennet Valley at War Trust has received £30,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project to conserve and enhance the charity’s collection of Second World War artefacts and to increase the number of ways in which the local community can access the collection and celebrate their local heritage. Led by Trust members and volunteers from Newbury College and Ramsbury Primary School, the project, which runs throughout the 2014-2015 academic year, focuses on the history of the Kennet Valley during the Second World War and its impact on the local community.

In response to rising local interest, and the approaching 70th anniversary of the end of the conflict, the project will enable young people to research, photograph and digitise the Trust’s collection of artefacts and create an exciting new website. The project also enables the creation of a new education pack (to be available online, and to be printed and distributed to 250 schools in North Wiltshire, West Berkshire and Swindon), the development of three walks exploring the Kennet Valley’s war time archaeology, and the delivery of a series of 10 workshops to broaden access and enable greater community involvement.

Based in a small museum within the evocative setting of Littlecote House Hotel, near
Hungerford, which was once home to the 506th (US) Parachute Infantry Regiment (of ‘Band of Brothers’ fame), and in surroundings which have changed little since 1945, the Trust’s collection of Second World War artefacts is of regional significance, drawing interest from those who live locally, from a range of British ex-Service organisations and from the US airborne community.

The collection’s artefacts range from a 3-ton Sherman tank turret, and a stable relocated from the village of Aldbourne (used to billet four American airborne soldiers over the winter of 1943-1944), to part of a German Heinkel 111 bomber’s wing. British, Canadian and American military uniforms, civilian artefacts and photographs, personal testimonies, helmets, badges and spent ammunition also help to tell the story of the conflict. A place of recreation and learning, the museum is valued by visitors and the local community, by hotel guests and local interest groups, by the families and friends of those billeted in the area in the 1940s, by re-enactment groups, and by local children.

Commenting on the award, the project’s spokesperson Tim Green said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident the project will help young people and the wider community better understand and take pride in their local heritage.”Newbury College’s Interactive Media Course Leader, Julian Bellmont, said: “The project is of enormous educational benefit to the students, enabling them to get actively involved in the local community.”

Lisa Flower, the History Coordinator at Ramsbury Primary School said: “We look forward to trialling the new educational packs and online resources, and the opportunity to make more links with our local community, to bring history alive for our pupils.” Speaking on behalf of Littlecote House Hotel, Bruce Steggles said: “Littlecote House Hotel fully support the project and the Trust’s work to keep the history of the local community alive for present and for future generations”.

Roger Day


HAHA by Belinda

An Allotment in Hungerford…………

I’m pleased to say we expect to have home-grown parsnips on our Christmas dinner plates this year – the first time in 3 years (I hope I’m not speaking too soon!). All being well, we should also have cabbage and carrots too. I’ve seen a tasty looking recipe for stuffed cabbage with chestnuts, parsnips and carrots – with some bread sauce I think that would be delicious and Christmassy. We vegetarians don’t always need a nut roast to replace turkey at Christmas!

Thanks to the slow arrival of Autumn this year, we got away with some delayed plantings of squashes, carrots and mangetout. Our cabbages and beets were hastily sowed into modules and then basically abandoned for a few weeks; they dried out a few times and looked very sick when we decided to just ‘stick them in the ground’ rather than assigning them to the compost bin. Thank goodness we did – they produced delicious beetroot and the Tundra cabbages, a winter variety, are looking really healthy at the moment.

It’s been quite a difficult year, what with illness, dodgy weather and bloomin’ slugs marauding the site again. I’m sure some of the huge slugs are of the invasive Spanish variety; we’ve seen them eating unusual items like rhubarb and potato leaves. We need to make sure our site stays wildlife friendly to keep the number of these unwanted visitors down! Recently we visited Tenerife, where we enjoyed feeding the indigenous lizards with foodscraps. I wasn’t surprised to learn they are a real nuisance to Canarian farmers – imagine the difficulty in trying to protect the lovely fruit and salad veg from them. But I’ve never seen a slug in Tenerife – Spanish or otherwise!

We used a nematode product, ‘Nemaslug’ to protect some of our potatoes from slug infestation this year. Nematodes are tiny organisms (microscopic – a typical handful of soil contains thousands) which can be parasitic. It certainly seemed to work for our two rows of Desiree, which grew gigantic and made fabulous mash – one potato providing ample servings for the two of us!

We’re not expecting a cold winter (as I write), but a few sharp frosts would be useful to kill off some of the pests which have survived since last winter and can also add flavour to our winter veggies. I don’t think it’s a fallacy – certain vegetables increase the sugars and other substances in their cells when the temperatures drop; the sugar solution acts like anti-freeze and makes the vegetables taste even better. So a cold winter is welcome on the allotment site – especially if we’ve caught up with all the jobs we should have completed in Autumn and don’t have to go out much!

Merry Christmas!

If you fancy the idea of growing your own contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274
Our Marsh Lane allotment life is recorded online through my blogs:

Visiting Author @ John O’Gaunt

On Friday the 10th of October the author Stewart Ross visited John O Gaunt School. This was organised by our amazing Librarian Mrs Bevill. Stewart was showing us his new book ‘Revenge of the Zeds’ a follow up from ‘The solitary Mission.’

Stewart was very lively and got everyone involved. Stewart also explained and read passages from his 2 book.

After he finished speaking he gave the year 7 and 8 a great deal and let us buy the books for £5 instead of their normal price of £6.99 and signed them.
We would like to say thank you to Stewart Ross and Mrs Bevill.
Hannah Ireson – Year 8

Stuart Ross came in to talk about his new book called ‘The Revenge of the Zeds’ He was trying to determine if we were young adults or children. He got two people to act out some short scenes that he had prepared for us to watch. It was brilliant Ben Bampton – Year 8. He has written books such has his newest book of a 2nd of a 2 part adventure Revenge of the zeds. As part of him coming in the library prepared lots of activities and year 7 and Year 8. We also were able to buy his books and get them signed after he told us about his newest books. This was a brilliant afternoon and lots of people brought his books (The Soterion Mission and Revenge of the Zeds).
Ciaran Morrison – Year 8

Raising Money for Charity Wear It Pink Day

On Friday the 24th of October, in order to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness the school organised its annual event where the students have the opportunity to wear non-uniform as well as help to raise money for charity.
The day required each student to bring in a pound and to wear at least one item of clothing that contained the colour pink, as pink is the symbolic colour for the breast cancer awareness charity.

The overall response was incredible. A vast majority of the school turned up wearing the bright colour, including teachers. Miss Parker, with the help of some students, even set up a nail bar, where other students could have their nails painted for just 50p.

The overall result was overwhelming and this idea contributed over £20 to the final amount raised.

Miss Holmes, the main organiser of the day was very pleased with the final result and sent an email to all the staff and students to thank them for all the money we managed to raise. Which was a massive total of £430.74.

The day was a great success and It meant the school was able to contribute to a worthwhile cause.

Health by Liz

Clear your throat

At this time of year the cold or damp weather can herald the start of a cold or bout of ‘flu’ and very often a sore throat is our first warning sign. Liz Chandler from Natures Corner looks at a remedy that has been helping us to fight off the common cold for centuries.

Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) is one of the most popular herbs in Europe but it was the Native Americans who first used it to treat snakebites and infections. Up to ten species have been identified but only three are used medicinally, echinacea purpurea, Echinacea augustifolia and echinacea pallida with echinacea purpurea being the most widely researched

The tonsils, situated at the back of the throat, are where we find a concentration of immune cells that are first in the line of defence when a virus or bacteria tries to storm the body. These immune cells start attacking the bug, creating heat and inflammation which we experience as pain and discomfort. The throat may start out feeling itchy or scratchy or just plain sore, and this is the time to support the immune system.

Immediately try cutting down on refined sugar and caffeine as both of these impede immune function. Then dose up with the herbal remedy Echinacea. If you are prone to sore throats then an Echinacea throat spray will absorb straight into the tonsils and assist the immune cells. Echinacea taken up into the bloodstream this way will circulate around the body, encouraging other immune cells to ward off the virus or bacteria. Echinacea is also found as a tincture, tablet or capsule.

Many traditional herbal remedies are steeped in history for good reason – they are simple, effective and still around in the 21st century. For more help and advice on winter health, please call Newbury’s independent natural health store, Natures Corner.


Our Community


It has been another busy month for the team. We are looking forward to welcoming PC Richard HUGHES next week. He will be a full time Police Constable working out of the station.
We will start with some good news. At the end of September a pushbike was stolen from the garage of a property in the High Street Kintbury. Forensics attended the scene and pulled a fingerprint. There was a match on our database and a male has been arrested, the male has been charged and bailed to court.

We have also summons a male to court who is from the Wiltshire Area after he was located in a field which runs adjacent to the A4 in Hungerford with an air rifle. He has been reported for a firearms offence after the male allowed a minor to use the air weapon without correct supervision. The community worked well together and with the support of the local residents and workers on the land, we were able to deal with this male effectively
We only had one report of Anti Social behaviour on Halloween night. A home had been egged in Kintbury during the early evening. We were pleased we did not have any other issues. We met so many polite little people and the costumes were brilliant.
In the early hours of the morning on the 3rd October offenders have forced entry to A4 Tool Hire in Hungerford and a quantity of tools were taken, which included chainsaws, hedge-trimmers and leaf blowers.

On the 3rd October PC Drewitt and PCSO King responded to a call from a gamekeeper reporting hare coursers on fields running alongside the A338. One male was apprehended but 3 outstanding males were not located. The police helicopter assisted in searching the surrounding area but it is believed that the males might have got into a car which was waiting on the B4000. Their dog and vehicle were both seized at the scene.

On the evening of the 3rd October PC Drewitt and PCSO attended the Inkpen Newcomers Welcome Evening. We really enjoyed the evening and had chance to speak with many residents. Some who have lived in the village for several years and others only a few months. It was an ideal opportunity to engage with the local community.
On the 4th October a farm feed room in Lambourn was broken into but nothing appears to have been stolen. On the same evening a further premise in the area was broken into and an engine crane and roll bars were stolen.

On the 6th October PC Drewitt arrested two males after they had been disturbed trying to steal metal from a property on the Templeton Road in Kintbury. Both males have been arrested for Burglary and currently on police bail whilst the offence is being investigated. The males are due back to police custody at the beginning of November. Hopefully we will have a result to print in next month’s update. Overnight on the 9th/10th October the spare wheel of a Subaru was stolen from the vehicle whilst it was parked on the driveway of a property on Ermin Street. It is believed that a Subaru that was disturbed in the Thatcham area earlier that evening had damaged their tyre and needed a replacement one quickly.

There has been a spate of vehicle crime overnight 17th/18th October in the Lambourn area:
Baydon Road – Sat Nav stolen
Ramsbury Road – Radio stolen from a piece of construction machinery
Derby Close – Expensive Dewalt power tool stolen from a van
A white Mini Cooper was stolen from St Georges Terrace area.

Can we take this opportunity to remind people to ensure that their vehicles are secured and valuable items are removed when unattended.

A male was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage to vehicles on Hungerford Hill on the morning of Thursday 30th October. He was taken to Police custody and interview. There was not enough evidence to prove the offence and the male was released without charge.

PC Drewitt and PC Parfitt dealt with a traffic hazard this week on the busy A4. The swan thought the centre of the A4 was a good place to stretch its legs and have a leisurely stroll. They managed to guide it to safety and waited for the professionals to attend and reunite the swan with its family.

PC Drewitt and PCSO King attended Hungerford Brownie group on 2nd October to assist them in working towards their Out and About and Road Safety badge. The Brownies enjoyed trying on some items that help keep the police safe and also having a look at the marked police 4×4.

We are looking forward to policing a usually busy weekend of Fireworks and Halloween parties.

Claire Drewitt

Jack Williams

Fond & Distant Memories by.…………… Jack Williams

This article highlights the talk that my wife Margaret and I gave to the Hungerford Historical Society in September .It was the opening of the 2014/15 season and whilst we had personal knowledge of all the facts, it required great concentration not to wander from the main theme which was “Hungerford Remembered.”

This year 2014, has been very busy – a Probus talk, the memorable 100th anniversary of WW1, a religious service that will long be remembered. School children shared in the reading of the names of the 76 men who were killed and words of praise and sympathy given to those of our town who lost relatives. Now my public life is winding down, but never fear, there are many stories left for me to write if I am asked to do so !

My service to the Royal British Legion is also slowing down but do not forget the tremendous effort members produce to ensure that the parade, the service at the Memorial, and the weeks of poppy selling, to ensure it is all a success. The parade without our own Hungerford Band would be unfortunate and we must be grateful for the excellent music they produce .I congratulate Martin ( Mac ) McIntyre for the memorable information he has provided on Hungerford casualties. It is available on the “Virtual Museum” but a booklet giving the information would be best. The two ladies who have organised the Poppy Day sales and distribution, Stella North and Shelagh Parry, have now retired and a new lady , Mrs Di Loft has volunteered for 2014/15.if you make an effort to carry out community work in our town I would like to think that it is always recognised. The French Government is to welcome applications for the decoration of the Legion D’Honneur. All veterans who took part in the 1944 D Day landings and in the liberation of France can participate. There are quite a number and they are being encouraged to apply.

Our friends from Ligueil France, some from 35years ago, have been visiting Hungerford again. I was sorry that the re-elected Mayor, Michael Guignaudeau, was not with them as the two of us signed the charter of friendship in both towns in 1980 and incredibly he has the stamina to serve his town as Mayor yet again .We have changed Mayors in Hungerford and I wish Dennis Benneyworth great success and shall miss Martin Crane as I very much like his style in communicating to us all.

A highlight for myself this year was to see the competitors in the Tour of Britain cycle race streaming over the Canal Bridge .As a long term fan of the Tour de France this was a very special event


Grumpy’s page

Even Grumpies can have a little rapture…although it is, of course, “modified rapture”. Since writing earlier in the year, I am sure Hungerford residents join me in applauding the evident re-generation of commercial activity in Bridge Street. The well-received health-food shop has quickly mutated into something with a tone altogether more dynamic; the three adjacent shops to the South would all appear to be open already or imminently so. This can only improve the vibrancy which the newcomer will sense on approaching Hungerford’s High Street.

Of course, there remains so much to lament. I am returned to my febrile state by the following:
Where can I buy, without a traipse several miles along the A4, simple computer accessories, cameras, knee length socks, boxer shorts?

Why do loud fireworks have to be let-off in central urban areas apart from the days immediately before or after Guy Fawkes Night? At other times of year, surely we should be able to leave our home and dogs sufficiently confident that one might not return home to find the dogs in a complete state of trauma or the thatch alight because of some untraceable idiot’s decision to launch a rocket or a Chinese lantern?

Has everybody in Hungerford signed the petition to try and force the government’s hand to extend electrification of the railway line from Newbury to Hungerford (and beyond), as has been justified in the Government appointed [but independent] consultant’s report?

Why are prices in both the Hungerford petrol stations so significantly higher than what one pays in Speen. Newbury, and in Marlborough? Should a boycott be organised?

When one gets to the forecourt of petrol stations in West Berkshire [well, in most parts of England], why can one not find [unlike at nearly every counterpart I have visited in Continental Europe] a pail of clean water, a sponge and a wiper blade with which to improve safe vision by removing squashed flies and other detritus from ones windscreen?

Finally, we have the Council Elections coming up. Please can more Hungerfordians stand. It might cost the ratepayer something to hold an election, but surely residents cannot be as complacent as they will otherwise seem if there are insufficient candidates. The inertia effectively diminishes our right to complain about the people and policies that result. Of course, there is a worse scenario: a major shortfall in candidates standing will result in the take-over of the Council function by that bunch up the A4.

On this topic, would it be preferable to have the town divided into wards, each with its own councillors? This is the structure in, for example, Newbury Town Council. Perhaps it might produce a more balanced representation of interests and opinions than is found under the current system. Maybe it would generate more involvement. Would such burning issues as the location of new housing either in the South or North of the town, and education issues be more logically and equitably debated? Whether or not used for the Town Council elections, should there also be a similar division of Hungerford into, say, two wards for the West Berkshire Council election?

Yup, I no longer feel enervated. Grumpy


Lest We Forget.

This Sunday I had the honour of laying a wreath at the war memorial in Hungerford, alongside Zoe and Harry, our Head Girl and Boy. This was my third Remembrance Parade since becoming Headteacher at John O’Gaunt School, but of course in its centenary year, all the more poignant.

As we marched falteringly in time with the brass band who
heralded the arrival of wreath bearers and members of the Hungerford Community,
overhead flew a bi plane, majestic in its history and simplicity; a fly past for those lost and those who have lost. Either side of the parade, families stood, wearing their blood-red
poppies to remember the fallen, never forgotten. At the foot of the high street our parade was halted as REME, in silent precision, drew their place behind us, a symbolic stance of protection and resilience; steadfast, proud, survivors.

We gathered about the memorial and I was fortunate to be bathed in November sunshine, which illuminated the crowd. To be stood amongst your community is a wondrous thing. Generations of Hungerford and its surrounding villages, shoulder to shoulder, united in its awe of such bravery, sacrifice and honour. The silence was charged, not with pomp and ceremony, but with love: Love for our fellow men and women, for our own families and for our community; a sense of belonging, a sense of Hungerford.

Throughout the ceremony, a senior veteran had remained seated opposite me, he sang, he prayed and he listened. His eyes were tired, his face lined with the memory of what he had seen during his years of service. It was clear he struggled with day to day life, exhausted by the weight of age and experience. However, as the National Anthem began, he hauled himself unsteadily to his feet, mustering all strength, determined to fulfil his obligation as a
servant of the Queen. Around him stood many of our students, representing their clubs; scouts, guides, cadets, rugby and football clubs. They steadied the gentleman, offering him an arm so that he could stand side by side with the ghosts of his absent friends, allowed him his dignity and his place as a soldier. It was, in short, humbling.

It is a great responsibility to teach the younger generation about tolerance and sacrifice, in a time when war and all its horror still exists. Children in a playground bicker and squabble about who is right or wrong, whose team better or worse, whose pop group more handsome or successful, but I have never heard children arguing about faith or ideology. What I saw today is that our children have great compassion, dignity and respect for those that sacrificed themselves, so that they might live a free life. By understanding that their community is the product of its history, of the people who have gone before them and that they have a responsibility to be part of it as it moves forward, I believe Hungerford will be in safe hands.

Sarah Brinkley

Blasts from the Past

Further to my article in the last issue of “Chain Mail” I thought I would follow this up with a potted Biography of the gentleman in question, namely Samuel Wilberforce.

“Samuel Wilberforce was born at Clapham Common London, on the 7th September 1805, the third son of William Wilberforce who was famous for his work on the abolition of slavery. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, and graduated in 1826 with a first class in mathematics, and a second in classics. Among his circle of close friends at Oxford were William Ewart Gladstone and Henry Manning, and he was no means averse to amusements, and especially delighted in hurdle jumping and hunting. He was ordained in December 1828, and after holding various posts he became chaplain to Prince Albert in 1841, and in 1843 sub-almoner to the Queen. In March 1845 he accepted the deanery of Westminster and in the October of that year the bishopric of Oxford. Always a high churchman he held aloof from the Oxford movement, but was a member of the High Church party. The publication of a Papal Bull in 1850 establishing a Roman Hierarchy in England brought Wilberforce and the Party into temporary disrepute, and the cessation to the church of Rome of his friend and brother-in-law Henry Manning (later Cardinal Manning), and then of his brothers and his only daughter and son-in-law, was not any help to his cause, and it was only his brilliant oratory and church organisation, that gradually won him recognition as without rival on the Episcopal bench.

Wilberforce gained his nickname of “Soapy Sam” in two ways. Firstly, Benjamin Disraeli described his manner as “unctuous, oleaginous, and saponaceous” (slippery, evasive, and soapy), and secondly due to his habit of rubbing his hands together when speaking as if he was washing them. He was a ferocious opponent of Darwin’s theory of evolution, and during a famous debate in 1860, he is said to have asked Thomas Henry Huxley whether it was through his grandfather or grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey, and received the reply that “he would not be ashamed to have a monkey as an ancestor, but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used his great gifts to obscure the truth”.

Wilberforce was not merely Bishop of Oxford but Lord Bishop, a member of the House of Lords, and a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1870 his friend from University days William Ewart Gladstone translated him to the bishopric of Winchester, where he remained until his death in 1873 after a fall from his horse. Of this Huxley is said to have remarked, “the Bishop’s brains have finally collided with reality, and the consequences have proved fatal” He was survived by three of his sons, two of which also achieved high office in the Church of England.

More from the past next month. Fred Bailey.



Legal Spot


According to recent research, two thirds of UK adults still do not have a will. Of those that do, almost a third are out of date.* For example, if you marry, any previous will is automatically revoked (unless it specifically takes account of the marriage), and if you divorce, your former spouse is treated as having predeceased you for the purposes of your will. It is so important to make a will and to keep it in line with your current circumstances.

If someone dies without making a will, their estate is passed in accordance with the laws of intestacy. The rules changed at the beginning of October, to give more rights to a surviving husband, wife or civil partner.

Under the old rules, where the deceased had no children, the surviving spouse or civil partner would receive the first £450,000 of the estate with the remainder being divided amongst the spouse and parents or brothers and sisters. Now, the surviving spouse or civil partner receives everything. Wider family members will receive nothing.

Where the deceased was married with children, previously the surviving spouse or civil partner would receive the first £250,000 plus a “life interest” in half of the remainder, meaning they would be entitled to the income but not the capital. The deceased’s children were entitled to the remaining half of the estate over £250,000.

Now, the “life interest” element has been abolished, so in the case of a married person with children, the surviving spouse will inherit the first £250,000, plus half of the residue absolutely. The children will receive the other half of the residue, and if they are still minors, the fund will be held for them on trust until they reach 18.

The reforms have not changed the rules in relation to unmarried couples, who still have no absolute entitlement to the estate of a deceased partner, even if they have been living as a couple for decades or have parented children. Neither are stepchildren recognised as having an entitlement.

Although these changes are a step in the right direction, they are not perfect, and a properly drafted will which can take into account your personal family circumstances will provide certainty to your relatives in a time of need.

Emily Payne, Dickins Hopgood Chidley LLP
The Old School House,
42 High Street, Hungerford RG17 0NF
Tel: 01488 683555 E:

* Investec Wealth Management Survey May 2014


Church Bells

Hungerford Bell Ringers – a beginner’s progress

I’ve been ringing for a year now and it’s ever more enjoyable as the weeks progress and my skill increases. My bell handling has now improved to the point where I can stop concentrating so hard on merely controlling the bell , much to the relief of my fellow ringers, and can spare some brain capacity to learn the basics of ‘method’ ringing. In Method ringing, ringers move from permutation to permutation by following a specific algorithm, called a method. It’s no wonder that this is also known as Scientific ringing.

With 8 bells, as we have at St Lawrence’s, there are 40320 possible permutations and the last time this was rung it took 18 hours to complete! A little beyond my ability and inclination but I’m hoping to attempt my first quarter peal, lasting 45 minutes, within the next few months.

At the time of writing, I’m looking forward to ringing on half-muffled bells for the first time on Remembrance Sunday. A leather pad is attached to one side of the clapper so the bells sound loud on one stroke then like an echo on the next. A really pretty effect. Ringing on Christmas day will be another big first for me. What lovelier way to start the day?

But enough about me…

We have a new website which has loads of information for enthusiastic amateurs and seasoned ringers alike and you can also find us on Facebook under Bells Near Newbury.

So have a look and, if your interest is piqued, do come along, on a Wednesday night at 7.30 or a Sunday morning at 9.30, to meet the gang. Look for the little door at the bottom of the tower . MM