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Summary:

The site of the town's main War Memorial in Bridge Street was formerly the site of the medieval Priory of St John the Baptist.

Photo Gallery:

 

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- War Memorial, Jan 2009

- International Stores, c1910-14

- The War Memorial cross after cleaning, Sep 2018 (Tony Bartlett).

- The War Memorial after cleaning, Sep 2018 (Tony Bartlett).

Timeline:

c1232-1547 The Priory of St John the Baptist, a small religious establishment, lay on the "island" in what is now the northern end of Bridge Street. It lasted for over 300 years until it was dissolved in 1547.

After the dissolution, the ex-priory properties were granted to Sir John Thynne of Longleat, who later leased them to various tenants. When Sir John Thynne died, the priory properties reverted back to the Crown, before being purchased c1576 by Anthony Hidden - Lord of the Manor of Hidden cum Eddington.

1678 (3 Mar) Lease by John Butler Isaac Field the elder and John Norris to John Pinnock for 2000 years, at a yearly rent of one peppercorn.

1740 - a new road incorporating two bridges was built for easier access to town from Charnham Street. No trace of the priory buildings exists today, although its presence is reminded by the names of buildings in Bridge Street - Great Priory House and Little Priory House.

1899 (10 May) Thomas Smith Hewer, Selina Mary Cundell Widow and William Frederick Hewer sold remainging lease to The International Tea Company's Stores Limited.

International Stores closed in Bridge Street at the end of the First World War, and this was the site chosen for Hungerford's War Memorial.

1920 (7 Apr) The International Tea Company's Stores Limited sold the remaining lease for £500 to Trustees of the War Memorial Charity who were Louis Henry Beard, Coal Merchant; Thoms Walter Alexander, Grocer; Richard Henry Barker, Doctor of Medicine; John Holmes Wooldridge, Builder; John Corderoy Adnams, Corn Merchant; George Edmund Platt, Gentleman; Joseph Alexander, Corn Merchant; William Edward Thomas Seccombe Gray MA, Vicar of Hungerford; Alfred Edward Allright, Draper; James Newhook, retired Schoolmaster; Arthur John Killick, Grocer; and Osmond Richens, Farmer, all of Hungerford in the County of Berks.

See also: Hungerford War Memorial Charity for the full text, or follow this link to see the photocopy of the Hungerford War Memorial Charity indenture.

The property was described as: "All that the little barn situate and being on the East side of the highway at the lower end of the Town of Hungerford in the County of Berks between the two rivers commonly called or known by the name of Little Chappell Barn together with all the Barton or backside next adjoining thereto with all that plot or parcel of ground whereon the Great Barn called the Great Chappel Barn then stood".

The resulting redevelopment enabled significant widening of the previously narrow Bridge Street.

1921 The War Memorial Dedication Service took place on Sunday 24 Apr 1921.

Interestingly, it transpires (following enquiries in 2017 into the ownership of the land occupied by the War Memorial) that the Hungerford War Memorial Charity (registered charity number 239013) "Ceased to exist" and was removed from the register of charities in November 1998. See Charity Commission entry for Charity 239013 and Letter from Charity Commission, 1 Nov 2017.

It is currently (Jan 2018) unclear who owns the land!

The War Memorial was thoroughly cleaned in 2018 ahead of the centenary of the end of the 1st World War. See "War memorial cleaned, NWN 18 Oct 2018. It was found that the cross itself was made of Portland Stone, the rest of the memorial being of Dolton Stone.

See also:

- Priory of St John the Baptist

- War Memorial Dedication Service

- War Memorials