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Cockfighting allegedly has a history going back 6,000 years, but in England it started to become popular as a "sport", pastime or entertainment in the late 17th century.
There is remarkably little known yet about this popular 17th and 18th century activity in Hungerford.
The only known mention of a local cockpit is in records relating to the "lately new built" 13 Bridge Street:
1707 (BRO D/EBl T4) Conveyance: Joseph Wall of Marlborough sold it to Thomas Clempson, apothecary, of Hungerford. It is now described as "all the messuage ... situate in the High Street together with the stables and other outhouses, yard, garden ground thereof unto belonging (a great part of which messuage was lately new built", confirming that "the old messuage there whilst it stood was called the King's Head" and also described "those gardens & meadow grounds & the grounds now used as a cock pit & whereon a summer house was lately built .... heretofore called the Pond Close".
In 1787 a Royal Proclamation was sent to every magistrate, in an attempt to stop the "sport": ... swarms of petty pothouses ... haunts of idleness, seminaries of crime ... Magistrates urged to rule against cockfighting on licensed premises tippling during divine services, harbouring of vagrants and breaking of gaming laws Constables incited to be more diligent in their supervision of alehouses Magistrates, churchwardens etc asked to take greater care when signing certificates of good conduct.
Cockfighting was finally banned in England and Wales by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835.