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Every so often, when the Constable thinks it is about time, the people of Hungerford still beat the bounds of the Town and Manor. In many respects this is a similar custom to that undertaken by other towns or villages in their annual Rogationtide procession; but in Hungerford, the "bounds' are those of the Town and Manor only.
The route taken today is virtually identical to that described in a detailed, and fascinating, written survey of 1591 (PRO DL42/117). At that time the 'Town and Manor' did not exist - the lands were still the property of the Crown, as part of the Duchy of Lancaster Hence, the survey was found in the Duchy records, written in an elegant hand in a closely bound and well preserved survey book .
Although some of the landmarks along the circuite and boundary have changed, the boundaries are essentially the same and many of the details can be identified on the ground today. Some of the field names mentioned in the survey also occur in 19th century sources, particularly the Enclosure Map of 1820 and the Tithe Commissioners' Map of 1849, and these maps were consulted in locating several features mentioned in the 1591 survey.
Click here for the Boundary Survey of Hungerford and Sanden Fee, 1591.
The full survey is reproduced below, with notes (in brackets) suggesting the present location. The numbers are shown on Map 4, so that readers can gain an idea of the location of each stop on the circuit. However, to gain a clearer impression of the boundary and its landmarks, one really needs to have a modern Ordnance Survey map - ideally the 1:25000 Pathfinder Series.
The survey of Hungerford starts at the Queen's Mill (Bridge Street) and goes clockwise; that of Sanden Fee starts at the same place but goes anticlockwise.
Survey of the Manors of Hungerford and Sanden Fee 25th May 1591:
"Names of the Jurie: Thomas Seymour, John Yowle, John Fawler, William Pottenger, Thomas Curre, John Curre Jun., John Malyn, John Mundaie, George Hedache, John Curre Sen., Robert Payne, Humphrey Batt, William White, Richard Mitton.
who being sworne and examined for the circuite limitts buttes and boundes of the said manor present:
1 that as they thincke the circuite and boundarie of the said manor and towne of HUNGERFORD is most fitt to beginne in the westmoste part thereof at the back water of the Queen's Mill (demolished in the 1930's - now a modern house 'Mill Hatch' - 7a Bridge Street).
2 compassinge in the chapel of St John's (residue of Priory of St John's which stood on the island between the two arms of the Dun. Part is now the War Memorial site).
3 and so following the said river eastwards to the Bellmeade corner (Bell Meade - land behind the Texaco Garage - no longer a meadow).
4 and thence over the river on Chilton to Denford Pounde head (the dammed-up water above the Mill to provide a reserve as needed).
5 and so over the meade unto the water that cometh out of the flood hatches to Dunmill, from thence following the river to Denforde Bridge and so to Denforde Mill and there compasseth in certain grounds called Outsannes appertaining to the said Denforde Mill, which said Outsannes is Lammas Ground and common to the Queen's tenants of the towne of Hungerford (Outsannes - probably the triangle of land between the Kernet and the Dun at Denford: 'lammas' lands were private, but common rights applied after August 1st).
6 From the said Denford Mill along the river as it leadeth to Charlesford pounde head (Charlesforde Mill - approximately opposite the sewage works on the Long Meadow).
7 and so to a hedge in Inglewoode Downe (the eastern extension of Port Down to the Kintbury Gate).
8 to the east part of Hungerford Park pale, there hence circuiting the said park to Porte Down Yeatt (Inkpen Gate).
9 from thence to a hedge of the field called the Breach (a common field- see Open Fields).
10 wherehence to the common pounde (near Down Gate - for stray animals!).
11 and so to a hedge by Cow Lane (Park Street).
12 and compaseth in also all the backsides bounding on Homefield (a common field - see Open Fields).
13 with the hedge upon the west side of the said towne and a pale between the lands of Thomas Seymour and a tenement of the Chantry of Our Lady (land north of Smitham- Bridge Road, between Marsh Lane and Pound Piece).
to a well in the Church Lane, which leadeth to a hedge and pales to Hungerford mill pounde and so to the backwater thereof where it first began (ie 1)
Sanden Fee: (It has not been possible to identify as many landmarks here as in the Hungerford survey. The southern boundary of the parish is very complicated, as a glance at any map will show).
14 the Circuit and boundaries of the said manor of Sanden Fee is also thought most mete to begin on the northwest parte thereof, at Hungerforde mill pounde head from thence following the river southwarde to Stockham bridge which divideth this manor and the manor of Hopgrasse (also known as Charnham Street or Charlton).
15 contayning the same river to a bridge called Freeman's Marsh bridge, therehence to a cross hedge, returning back southerly by another hedge to restinge thorne, from thence by a hedge in Westbrooke field (a common field, see Map 2).
16 to Conneshangers (Tithe Map of 1849 shows 'Conegar' in this position - the name denotes a rabbit warren).
17 and thence to the river that cometh from Shalbourne following the same river to a parcel of ground called the pikes (Tithe Map shows Holmes Pike - a pointed field - on the Salisbury Road).
18 therehence to a highway that leadeth to Sarum (Salisbury) to a hedge leading up to the same waie to a parcel of ground called Stocklandes (field on West of Salisbury Road opposite Prosperous Home Farm - name denotes tree stumps, suggesting clearance in medieval times or earlier).
19 and there compasseth in a common field called Tucknams (Tucknams suggests 'tucking' - same as 'fulling'. 'Tinghams' is the nearest reference, opposite Stocklands).
20 thence to a lanchierd (= lynchet - a terrace caused by ploughing along a contour).
21 which leadeth to a hedge of John Currs that boundeth on Helmes Heath (old common/waste land of Helmes Manor).
22 which leadeth to a hedge there to Stubwood Coppice (now called Kiln Copse. There were brickworks here in the 19th century. Stubwood Farm was rebuilt and re-named Prosperous Home Farm) therehence into Red Lane following the same to the end thereof, turning eastward at the lanchierd in Tucknam, by a hedge there, to another hedge which returneth north, to a little lane and so crossinge the same lane to Stubwood from thence to Helmes heath following the hedge that boundeth in the same on the south unto a ground within the said Helmes heath called
23 Popingaies (a few bricks and a fenced off well are all that is left of a house here. Situated at the junction of three footpaths north of Prosperous).
24 wherehence by a hedge to a ground called Overpurrs (Tithe Map shows two fields called Great and Little Purrs between Bitham Lane and Anvittes Copse).
25 being the land of Mr Richard Stafferton on the west, to the end of the said Purres therehence to a ground called Brindes in the parish of Inkepen which divideth this manor and the saide parish wherehence to a hedge and ditch on the east side leading to a house now called Goodwynnes floode in the parish of Kintbury (Anvilles in Kintbury was also known as Goddingflod) leaving the same on the north following the pale and hedge of Helmes heath on the south side to a tile house there (possible early reference to brick/tile manufacture that was certainly there in the 19th century).
26 to Helme Coppice (modern O.S. map gives Elm Copse; 18th century maps show Helms Farm on the edge of the copse. Brick and rubble remain).
27 therehence to west field to a coppice of the inheritance of John Curre on the west to a lane leading to Goode Downe (Tithe Map gives Goodes Field just East of Sanham Green Road).
28 compassinge in the same and so crossing south to Inkepen waie to a hedge on the east side of the Priorie of St Johns compassing in the said priory Closes (lands of the dissolved Priory of St Johns, then owned by the Dean and Canons of Windsor. Now John O'Gaunt School and playing fields).
29 and so following the said hedge unto Frith Downe (Sanham Downe - land opposite the school).
30 therehence to the park pale (Hungerford Park boundary) to Hungerford Port Down Yeatt (= gate) which divideth the saide Porte Down and Sanden Downe ... where it endeth."
Hungerford is very fortunate in possessing such a detailed survey made over four hundred years ago - very few places do. Comparing the survey with later maps and documents proved a complicated undertaking, but there is much more work that needs to be done in order to realise the full potential of this kind of study. However, this approach is surely very worthwhile - it proves how much history there is to be found in familiar features of the landscape. With persistence, we may be able to unlock the secrets of medieval and earlier landscapes. This is important, because although the documentary evidence is safely stored under lock and key, the landscape is rather more vulnerable.
Thanks to Fred Whitby for his work on this chapter, especially the annotated survey above.
(From Elizabethan Hungerford, Julie Shuttleworth et al, 1995)
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