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No mention of Hungerford in Domesday:

There is no single "manor of Hungerford" - the history is much more complicated! There were four ancient manors holding land in Hungerford, along with the additional adjacent manors of Eddington and Charnham Street. (See Letter from Norman Hidden to Carol Cartwright about early manors, town, borough and parish of Hungerford, 12 Jan 1998).

This section outlines the early history of the town from the time of the Domesday survey, and forms the basis of our understanding of property ownership, quit rents and commoners rights in the town today.

There is no mention of Hungerford itself in the Domesday Survey of 1086. Many nearby manors, however, are listed, both in Berkshire and Wiltshire. These include the manors that nowadays are all part of Hungerford - Inglefol (Hungerford Engleford), Charlton (Hopgrass and Charnham Street), Eddington, and Hidden. Closely surrounding the area of Hungerford were Leverton, Inkpen, Denford, Avington, Chilton Foliat, and Shalbourne.

The area of land which later became Hungerford lay at the extreme western edge of the large Royal manor of Kintbury.

William I gave manor of Kintbury to Robert de Beaumont

After 1086, the large manor of Kintbury was granted by King William I to Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan, and the manor remained in the family for several generations.

Robert de Beaumont (1st)

Robert de Beaumont (1049-1118) was a powerful nobleman, revered as one of the wisest noblemen of his age. He was learned and eloquent, and three kings of England were to come to value his counsel. He was a distant relation to William the Conqueror and had accompanied him to England in 1066 (at the age of 17 years) and he had led one wing of the infantry at the Battle of Hastings. In due course his service earned him 91 manors and lordships. Henry I created him 1st Earl of Leicester in 1107.

1103-1118 - First mention of Hungerford by name

Eddington (later to be known as Hidden-cum-Eddington) was a significant manor – between 600 and 1200 acres, with a mill, meadowland and woodland. A document dated sometime between 1103 and 1118 records that Robert de Beaumont granted "a manor near Hungerford, Edenetona by name" to the church of the Holy Trinity at Beaumont in Normandy. A community with the name Hungerford clearly existed by this date – probably carved out of a portion of the manor of Kintbury.

1118 - Hungerford passes to Robert de Beaumont (2nd)

Robert de Beaumont (1st) died in 1118 and his estates passed to his twin sons. Waleran inherited the French estates, and Robert (2nd) inherited the English estates, including Hungerford.

1119 - Robert (2nd) owns both Eddington and Hungerford

In 1119, just after Robert de Beaumont's death, a charter refers to a debt of £2 owed by Robert to the churches of St. Mary of Bec in Bernay and St. Nicaise in Meulan (both in Normandy) in respect of Robert's manor in Hungerford. Robert (2nd) clearly owned both Eddington (north of the river) and Hungerford (south of the river). Together, the two manors of Hidden-cum-Eddington on the northern side of the River Kennet, and Hungerford to the south formed an important unit, and required the de Beaumont family to maintain the ford (over the river Kennet) and the later bridge (which certainly existed by c.1220). This ford and bridge became a key crossing on the important route between Oxford and Salisbury.

1147 - Robert (2nd) encourages the development of Hungerford

By 1147 there are records of a parish church at Hungerford, which appears to have been in existence for some years previously. The Priory of St Frideswide at Oxford exchanged the church of Beaumont in Normandy for the "Manor of Hudden and the vill of Edineton", one third of the tithings to be reserved for the church at Hungerford on the understanding that no church be built at Eddington. This became a simmering dispute, and mediation and advise was sought of the Pope (Blessed Eugene III) who was in Paris on 25th May 1147. The agreement makes clear that Robert de Beaumont (2nd) who was lord of both Eddington and Hungerford, wished to prevent the development in Eddington of a rival church to that at Hungerford. It suggests that he was wishing to promote the further development of Hungerford as a developing trading community – a developing market town.

Domesday manor of Inglefol (Hungerford Engleford)

The separate manor of Inglefol (Hungerford Engleford) had been mentioned in Domesday as being around 180-360 acres, and in the hands of Robert Fitzgerald. It roughly corresponds to Hungerford Park.

In 1150 it was in the hands of the earl of Lincoln, but he died childless, and it reverted to the Crown.

In 1198 Richard I passed the estate to John Belet, who was also owner of the Balsdon and Inglewood manors locally. Hungerford Engleford was to remain in the hands of the Belet family until 1420 (see below).

The Hungerford manors c1150

Around 1150, therefore, the estates and manors comprising what we now know of as Hungerford were:

The Manor of Hungerford – under the lordship of Robert de Beaumont (2nd),
The Manor of Hungerford Engleford - under the ownership of the earl of Lincoln,
The Manor of Eddington - under Robert de Beaumont 2nd
The church and some estate lands in the parish of Hungerford - owned by the Abbey of Bec, and
The fee of Sanden – a rural estate which lay all around the town of Hungerford, but which later became identified with the town and borough - also in the hands of Robert de Beaumont (2nd).

One should also remember the manors of Hopgrass cum Charlton (Charnham Street) and Leverton.

Robert de Beaumont 3rd and 4th:

In 1168 Robert de Beaumont (2nd) died, and his son (Robert de Beaumont (3rd, 1168-1190) inherited the estates. For a short period, between 1174-1177 his lands were confiscated when he took the wrong side in the dispute between Henry II and his son Prince Henry, but they were restored in 1177.

When Robert de Beaumont (3rd) died in 1190 his son Robert de Beaumont (4th) inherited the estates.

In 1170 the townsmen were referred to as "burgesses", and in 1241 Hungerford was named as a borough, and was represented at the Assizes by a bailiff and 12 jurors. The market was mentioned in a court case dated 1248.

When was the "new" model town laid out?

There is strong circumstantial evidence that by this date the "new" model town existed, with its north-south main street, and burgage plots along each side. By this time some Hungerford Engleford properties lay within the town, and some of its lands lay within the fee of Sanden. Similarly, some of the Bec properties were intermixed with the lands and property of the town, but each retained their own lord and their own manorial courts.

The "new" model town appears to have been laid out on land in Sanden fee. The new town developer must have been lord of the manor of Hungerford, and one must presume that this redevelopment came about because it was in the lord's interest, by an increase in the market tolls and other revenues. As well as lying on the north-south route between Oxford and Salisbury, Hungerford lay on the east-west route between Newbury and Marlborough. There was also an old market road from Hungerford to Newbury on the south side of the river Kennet.

As early as 1174 the townsmen of Hungerford had referred to themselves as burgesses, which suggests that a form of burgage tenure had already been established. Burgage tenure meant that a householder might own his dwelling as freehold and not as previously by copyhold, i.e. dependent on the lord's manorial court. Under burgage tenure he would be free to sell or lease the property as and when he chose, and paying only a fixed nominal rent ("quit rent") which released him from all other services to his feudal lord. Burgage tenure was a feature of the new "model" town, and was an indication of freehold rights within the manor of Hungerford. Annual quit rents were set at the rate of 8d per annum for a full (width) burgage, of two rods (about 11 yards) and pro rata for smaller (or larger) properties, e.g. 4d for a half-burgage, 2d for a quarter-burgage. This unchanging quit rent helps historians identify the various properties and their owners and occupiers over the centuries.

We have suggested above that the new "model" town was in existence by 1248. For such an ambitious scheme to succeed, it must have occurred at a time when the manors of Hungerford town and Hungerford Engleford were held by the same lord, who must at the same time have been holder of the Sanden Fee. All three areas were involved in the re-development.

The three possible periods were under the lordship of Robert de Beaumont (2nd), Robert de Beaumont, or Simon de Montfort. All these were Earls of Leicester; they enjoyed enormous power; they spent large periods of their life overseas; were strong-willed, ambitious men; and the careers of both men were affected by quarrels with their respective monarch.

c1120-68 under Robert de Beaumont 2nd or 1177-89 under Robert de Beaumont 3rd, or 1230-50 under Simon de Montfort V?

Was it under Robert de Beaumont 2nd c1120-1168?

Robert de Beaumont (2nd) had inherited his father's lands and title (2nd Earl of Leicester) under a guardian on the latter's death in 1118. When he was aged 16 years in 1120 he took control of his estates, and we know that between 1120-1140 he spent much time organising his estates in Leicestershire.. Between 1133-64 he was much involved in church patronage. It was in 1147 that the Priory of St Frideswide exchanged the church of Beaumont for the manor of Hidden and the vill of Eddington. Robert 2nd died in 1168. It was in 1170 that the townsmen referred to themselves as "burgesses" implying burgage tenure of property.

Was it under Robert de Beaumont 3rd c1177-1190?

Robert de Beaumont (3rd Earl of Leicester) had his lands confiscated in 1173-4, but restored to him in 1177. He went on pilgrimage to Palestine in 1189, and died the next year. It is possible that he could have planned and developed the new town between 1177 and 1189. However, it should be noted that there is no surviving evidence that Robert ever held Sanden Fee.

Robert died childless, and the Hungerford estate passed to his sister Amicia, who was married to Simon de Montfort III. In due course the estates passed via Simon de Montfort IV (5th earl of Leicester). In 1207 King John was confiscated the Leicester estates with the aim of preventing them getting into French hands, but in 1215 passed them to Ranulph de Meschines (4th Earl of Chester). They eventually passed to Amauri de Montfort of Normandy, who resigned his English estates to his younger brother Simon de Montfort V (born 1208) who became 6th Earl of Leicester in 1230. Robert de Beaumont 3rd had been great-uncle of Simon de Montfort.

Simon de Montfort V became lord of the manor in 1231

Simon came to England in 1229 (aged 21), and found that all his Leicester estates were in the hands of the Earl of Chester. He petitioned King Henry III for their restoration – which he achieved in 1231. He married the king's sister, Eleanor, in 1238, and was soon made Earl of Leicester. As Earl of Leicester, he would have owned the vill of Hungerford, and the fee of Sanden. The church, however, had been granted by Robert de Beaumont to the Abbey of Bec.

In 1232, the king gave letters of protection to the Hospital of St. John the Baptist in Hungerford, and also to the leprous sisters of St. Lawrence's church in Hungerford. These were probably at Simon de Montfort's persuasion.

Simon de Montfort's main power bases were at Leicester and Kenilworth. However, Hungerford seems to have become an administrative centre for Simon's activities and lands in the surrounding area, the King directing in 1248 and 1259 that large sums of money should be paid to Simon at Hungerford.

Simon de Montfort develops Balteley Wood as his deer park

Furthermore, in 1247-49 he developed nearby Balteley Wood into a deer park (which later became Hungerford Park). He removed all common rights of herbage and pannage in Balteley Wood, and there is much evidence that de Montfort took a personal interest in the development of the park. King Henry III himself made gifts of deer to his sister Eleanor for Simon's deer park in 1248 and 1249.

A further agreement removed the rights of the Abbey of Bec over a certain area away from the town, in exchange for which the abbey estate acquired certain rents arising from a property including a tenement of Jordan de Mareyse and a cotsetlam of land with the house of John Ginegome. These various rents were to be held by the Abbey "free from all secular services, disputes and exactions". This is the key to the abbey's estates in Hungerford being exempt from quit rent. The renunciation of common rights in Balteley may be the origin of their corresponding exclusion from the rights of common enjoyed by later free-suitors of Hungerford.

Was the "new" town laid out by Simon de Montfort?

There is much to support the suggestion that the development of the "new" model town of Hungerford coincided with the development of the deer park in Balteley Wood (i.e. c.1247-49). Simon de Montfort appears to have pushed both projects forward.

The manor of Hungerford passes from Simon de Montfort to John of Gaunt

In 1265 Simon de Montfort V, 6th Earl of Leicester, was killed in the Battle of Evesham, fighting Kind Henry III's forces. His lands reverted to the Crown. and were soon passed to Henry III's younger son Edmund "Crouchback", who became 1st Earl of Lancaster, Earl of Leicester in 1265.

When Edmund died in 1296, his son Thomas became 2nd Earl of Lancaster. He was executed by Edward II in 1322, and his brother Henry, known as Henry Plantagenet, inherited as 3rd Earl of Lancaster.

Henry Plantagenet died in 1345, and his son Henry of Grosmont inherited - Earl of Leicester and Lancaster. Henry of Grosmont was made one of the Founding Knights of the Order of the Garter in 1348 - and further rewarded by the kind in 1351 when he was made 1st Duke of Lancaster. He is now always known as "Henry of Lancaster".

Henry of Lancaster had earlier married Isabel de Beaumont in 1330. When he died, possibly of the plague, in 1361, Henry and Isabel left no sons, but two daughters - Maud and Blanche.

Maud inherited the huge Lancastrian estates, but she herself died childless the following year, on 10th April 1362. The Lancastrian estates passed to her sister Blanche, who was married to Edward III's fourth son, John of Gaunt, who was thus, at the age of 22 years, created 2nd Duke of Lancaster. It is said to have been John of Gaunt who granted so many rights and privileges to the inhabitants of Hungerford.

The manors of Hungerford and Hungerford Engleford were separate, each having its own territory, its own lord, and its own manorial court. Both manors acknowledged the Crown as overlord; both properties would have been included in town surveys, and the inhabitants of both had commoners' rights in certain lands in Sanden Fee (though the areas of common may differ).

The manor of Hungerford Engleford from 1420 onwards

In 1420 the Manor of Hungerford Engleford passed from the Belet to the Darrell family (of Littlecote).

Both manors held by Sir Walter Hungerford 1446

In 1429 they sold it to Sir Walter Hungerford – at which time it comprised 11 messuages in Hungerford, one in Charnham Street, with 84 acres..

Sir Walter Hungerford had served under Henry V in France in 1415, and fought at Agincourt. Henry awarded him Knight of the Garter. On Henry's death in 1421, Sir Walter Hungerford was an executor of his will. Towards the end of Hungerford's life, in 1446, Henry VI granted Sir Walter Hungerford "the lordship of the manor of Hungerford, the town and borough, and our Park in Hungerford, the Fee of Sanden, for fealty and twenty marks yearly".

The manors of both Hungerford and Hungerford Engleford were again held by the same lord, one manor a seignorial, and the other a royal demesne. Separate audits and accounts were presented annually, and separate courts were kept in respect of each.

When Sir Walter Hungerford died in 1449, the manors were inherited by his son Robert, 2nd Baron Hungerford, and when he died in 1459 by his son - another Robert, 3rd Baron Hungerford. The 3rd Baron was an active Lancastrian in the Wars of the Roses, and his forfeited estates were given by the Crown to Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Robert was killed at the Battle of Hexham in 1464.

The Wars of the Roses

During the Wars of the Roses there were various exchanges of land and estate ownership.

The accession of Henry VII in 1485 brought the pro-Lancastrian family of Hungerford back into favour and power, and the manor of Hungerford Engleford remained with them, whilst the manor of Hungerford remained with the Duchy of Lancaster until its eventual purchase by the inhabitants of the borough in the feoffment of 1617. Follow this link for more on the Origins of the Town and Manor of Hungerford.

Even then, the manor of Hungerford Engleford continued much as before. Being a separate manor, rather like Charlton/ Hopgrass or Eddington-cum-Hidden, they paid their own quit rent to their own lord, and not to the Town and Borough of Hungerford. However, unlike Charlton/Hopgrass or Eddington-cum-Hidden, they seem to have possessed Commoners' rights as townsmen.

Thus Hungerford Engleford properties do not appear on town quit rent rolls, but their residents may appear in Commoners' lists. A survey of tenants in 1580/81 lists the locations of the Hungerford Engleford properties and the names of their tenants.

The manor of Hungerford Engleford is eventually broken up in 1743

The manor house was located on the site of later 121 High Street, and it remained "Manor House" until the manor was sold and broken up in 1743. Most of the Hungerford Engleford properties lie on the east side of the High Street, possibly reflecting the origin in land east of the present town, adjacent to the parish of Kintbury. There are some Hungerford Engleford properties at the eastern end of Church Street, and there are some lands in Sanden Fee.

In addition to the manor of Hungerford, and the manor of Hungerford Engleford, some properties in Hungerford originally belonged to the Chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary (=St. Mary), the Chantry of the Holy Trinity, the Abbey of Goring and the Dean & Canons of Windsor (DCW).

Photo Gallery:

domesday inglef...
domesday inglefol domesday inglefol
mediaeval ploug...
mediaeval ploughing mediaeval ploughing

- Domesday entry for Inglefol [Hungerford Engleford]

- Mediaeval ploughing - showing the use of a "rod" to goad the oxen

See also:

- Early Manors of Hungerford

- Duchy of Lancaster Survey of Manor of Hungerford and Sanden Fee, 25th May 1591

- Charity Commissioners' Report on the Parish of Hungerford, Mar 1905, inc Endowments and Charities