You are in [Places] [Great Estates] [Hungerford Park]

Summary:

Hungerford Park includes much of the land to the east and south of the town.

Photo Gallery:

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- Hungerford Park House, c1920, showing the garden front, with its croquet lawn and two tennis courts.

- "The Park, Hungerford", date unknown

- Hungerford Park, Dec 1916 [Kindly sent by Madeline Carman]

- Hungerford Park House, c1930.

- Hungerford Park House, c1935 [Albert Parsons]

- Sale Hungerford Park (including Anvilles and the lodges) by John German, Jul 1956

- Hungerford Park House, c.1960

- Plan of Down Gate end of Park Street, (undated c1820), showing John Wille's house and garden, George Cundell's and York's property. [Thanks to Dr David Cave]

- Plan of Hungerford Park estate (undated, c1850) [Thanks to Dr David Cave]

- Plan of Hungerford Park estate (undated, c1850) featuring three fields adjacent to Templeton. [Thanks to Dr David Cave]

Simon de Montfort, c1246-1265:

The earliest reference is in 1246 when Simon de Montfort was granted a licence to enclose "with ditch and hedge" a wood which was called "Buteley" or "Balteley", then part of Savernake Forest. It is said that some parts of this ditch system are still visible close to the Kintbury to Hungerford road.

For the next three years, between 1247-49, Simon de Montfort developed Balteley Wood into a deer park. It is probable that he built a hunting lodge on the site. In what is our earliest example of "Enclosure" of common land, he removed all common rights of herbage and pannage in the Wood. King Henry III made gifts of twenty deer to his sister Eleanor (Simon's wife) (whose first husband’s family lived at nearby Hamstead Marshall) for the park.

After De Montfort was killed at the Battle of Evesham, Hungerford deer park fell into Royal hands. It was probably rarely, if ever, visited by the monarch and any lodge presumably fell into ruin.

Sir Walter Hungerford, 1400-c1470:

In 1400 Henry, Duke of Lancaster, afterwards Henry IV, gave the manor, Town and Park to Sir Walter Hungerford, a distinguished soldier in the reign of Henry IV, V and VI. When Edward IV gave the Manor to the Duke of Somerset, Hungerford Park with all its manorial rights reverted to the Crown.

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex:

By 1586, the Royal deer park at Hungerford was in serious decline. There was no lodge and two hundred and thirty oak and ash trees had been felled there in the previous twelve years; while the number of deer had plummeted from three hundred to sixty-six in just three years.

Queen Elizabeth I must have invested heavily to bring the place back up to scratch. Three years later, a certain Anthony Cooke was overseeing the park.

By 1591, the tenancy was with Henry Sadler and his wife, Philippa. His park “containeth 300 acres, 140 deer, well paled and furnished with oaks, ashes and coppice woods” and most importantly, “a convenient new built lodge”. The house was "new-built" in 1591, as recorded on a Duchy of Lancaster Survey of Hungerford - "Henrie Sadler holdeth (from Richard Inkepen) the Park of Hungerford with herbage and pannage. The park contayneth 300 acres, 140 deer, well paled and furnished with okes, ashes and coppice woods together with a convenient new built lodge. Templeton coppice 16a, 20 years growth; Wokely coppice 8a, of same age; Denford coppice 17a, 2 years growth".

In 1595, the Queen granted Hungerford Park to her favourite, Robert Devereaux, 2nd Earl of Essex. He is said to have expanded the lodge into a ‘mansion,’ at the east end of which were displayed the Royal arms of his patroness. A large room over the servants’ hall was called ‘Queen Elizabeth's Room’ indicating that the lady visited him there at least once to partake of the chase. Sadler remained as steward while Essex spent most of his time in London, but the great man became involved in Court intrigues and was executed for treason in 1601.

17th and 18th century:

The 1663 Hearth Tax return includes an entry for "The Right Honourable James Herbert Esquire for the Park House", for 21 hearths.

Soon after, it seems that Thomas Hussey purchased the park lease from John Herbert. (He may have been a descendant of the Husseys from North Standen).

Thomas Hussey died in 1657 leaving the park to his wife, Catherine Hussey, for her lifetime, with a remainder to his eldest son, also called Thomas.

In the late 1600s, the park belonged to Edward Boyland and his family, but in 1707 it was sold to Francis Stonehouse, a 2nd cousin of Sir George Stonehouse, 4th Baronet, of Radley Hall, near Abingdon. His mother was one of the Goddards from Standen Manor, a property he also purchased from his cousin, Francis Goddard, in 1719.

Francis Stonehouse died in 1738, when his son, also Francis Stonehouse, inherited both estates. The former Governor of Jamaica, Edward Trelawny, was presumably his guest when he died at Hungerford Park on 16 Jan 1754.

Six years later the estate became celebrated in agricultural circles for the early introduction of maize. Francis Junior’s son, George Stonehouse, inherited his father’s estates in 1758. He appears to have preferred Standen Manor, for he sold Hungerford Park to Isaac Renou in 1765.

We know, from maps of this period, that the accommodation consisted of a large east-facing house with two wings resting amongst tree-lined avenues and formally laid-out gardens and orchards. However, Isaac went bankrupt within four years and the park was vested in trustees for the benefit of his creditors.

Hungerford Park was eventually sold to a Mr. Waters and, by 1787, had passed to Charles Dalbiac.

Charles Dalbiac, 1787-c1796:

In 1787 the estate was bought by Charles Dalbiac, a Protestant Huguenot whose father had fled France as a child hidden in a hamper, presumably with a large amount of money.

Dalbiac pulled down the old house at Hungerford Park and built a new “elegant villa in the Italian style,” set in pleasure grounds of “a neat and agreeable appearance”.

The Berkshire Directory of 1796 states "Mr Charles Dalbiac, the present proprietor, has lately erected an elegant villa in the Italian style on the spot where the old house stood".

There, he raised a family, including his eldest son, Lieut-Gen Sir James Charles Dalbiac KCH who famously led the left wing of the 4th Dragoons at the Battle of Talavera during the Peninsular War. The family sold up in 1796.

The Willes family, 1796-1900:

In 1796 the estate was bought by John Willes, who was to start a dynasty that was associated with the area for over a hundred years.

He rebuilt the ancillary buildings around the house and erected the only still extant associated structure, the wellhouse. This is a charming little red-brick octagonal building, with side chambers, in a muted classical style, standing over an 111ft deep well. Within its gable, it sports a sculptured arms of Elizabeth I, probably the one that graced the wall of the original house. The whole is sadly in need of restoration.Willes also had new kitchen and pleasure gardens laid out.

John Willes served as Sheriff of Berkshire in 1815.

A survey of the estate in 1821 (BRO D/EZ26/Z1) lists details all the properties, rights, fields, woods and roads, totalling just over 415 acres. Interestingly, there is mention of Bawkley Fields, no doubt linked to the historic Simon de Montfort Balteley Wood.

John Willes died childless in 1837, leaving this estate to his nephew, George Willes, fifth son of the Rev. William Shippen Willes of Astrop in Northamptonshire.

The 1840 Robson described "The south and west  sides are closed by fine woods, but it is open on the north to a considerable range of varied and aggreeable scenery."

In 1850, George Willes employed Thomas and William Cubitt (famous for allegedly "changing the face of London" with the construction of Belgrave Square, Euston Station and many other buildings) to remodel a large part of his mansion in a classic Italian style (see Photo Gallery). It had splendid reception rooms, extensive "pleasure grounds" and landscaped parkland.

The 1851 Kelly Directory states "Hungerford Park was formerly the residence of the Barons of Hungerford,who took their name a title from this place. The mansion is in the Italian style and occupies the site of the old  house which was built by Queen Elizabeth for the Earl of Essex. The scenery around is very picturesque and the town exceedingly healthy. The hunting in the neighbourhood is good and well suported. The Craven housns meet very near the town. The land around is famous for the growth of barley and the water meadows are highly productive and valuable."

In 1852, an important, but little-known, cricket match took place at Hungerford Park in July 1852. The match was one of many that were held between players of the All England team and local town teams. The remarkable thing about the match was the result: England were disposed of for 12 runs only! This was their lowest innings on record.

George Willes served as deputy-lieutenant for the county and was succeeded in 1862 by his son, George Shippen Willes, JP from 1854 (see 1869 Post Office Directory), and Hon. Colonel of the Berkshire Imperial Yeomanry. 

The Parish Magazine of Sep 1875 records: "Monday August 2 (Bank Holiday) the members of Court John O'Gaunt Ancient Order of Foresters held a most successful demonstration and be latter being held in Hungerford Park which G.S. Willes Esq., most kindly placed at their disposal.

Early in the morning the strains of the Lambourne brass band resounded cheerfully as "bold Robin Hood and his merry men all" mustered in front of their Court-house, the John O'Gaunt, and headed by a handsome banner and gay with costumes and regalia, a long procession wended its way to the Parish Church to attend divine service. The Vicar preached a sermon from the text "Bear ye one another's burdens".

After the service, the Park was entered, not only by the Foresters and their friends, but by a large number of visitors from the neighbourhood.

The first proceeding of the day was a Cricket match, which occupied the greater part of the day, eleven Foresters and eleven of the Town meeting for a friendly contest. After an interesting game the latter were victorious.

There was an interval for dinner, for which Host Annetts catered in a large marquee.

During the afternoon, Athletic Sports were the principal centre of interest and fairly good "fields" started for the various events."

Shippen Willes was eventually unable to keep up the building himself and rented it out to tenants before being forced to sell the park in 1908 to Humphrey James Walmesley.

Col. William Hugh Dunn was living there in 1847 (Kelly), and for many years after.

In 1895 Hungerford Park was occupied by John Walter Morrice.

By 1903 it seems Mr de Wend Fenton was living there, as in October 1903 the Golf Club (on the Common) complained that race-horses were being trained on the Common "by Mr De Wend Fenton of Hungerford Park", who denied doing so, but said he was not aware of any rule stopping him from riding across the Common!

The Walmsley's, 1908-1928:

In 1908 Col Willes sold Hungerford Park, and moved to 26 Charnham Street. The estate was bought by Humphrey Jeffreys Walmesley (1846-1919), who already owned the large Inglewood estate. He continued to live at Inglewood House.

In 1928 Hungerford Park was sold on by the Colonel as part of the great Inglewood Estate sale.

Mr A G Turner, 1928-1956:

In 1928 Colonel Walmesley decided to sell the whole of the Inglewood Estate, and it was advertised for sale. The entire estate was sold in 47 lots, and included Inglewood Park (123 acres), Kintbury Farm (87 acres), Hungerford Park (394 acres), Sadlers Farm (266 acres), Totterdown House (64 acres), Anvills Farm (653 acres), Sanham Green Farm (270 acres), Coldharbour and Little Templeton Farms (287 acres), Templeton (166 acres), Inlease Farm (154 acres), Avington Manor Farm (561 acres), and Radley Farm (645 acres) - 4,225 acres in all. There was extensive fishing, many other properties and woodland. The full Sale Particulars run to over 60 pages!

Hungerford Park was sold prior to the auction on 19 Jun 1928; it was bought by the shipping magnate Alfred Geoffrey Turner (sometimes referred to as Alfred George Turner). The house was a two storeyed stuccoed building with moulded cornice, a Doric porch and two projecting bays on south garden front.

Six years later he made a number of alterations, including the addition of a grand ballroom. The family, which included four daughters, was famous for giving frequent lavish parties for as many as 65 invited guests at any excuse. These usually had a specific theme, and ended with spectacular firework displays which lit up the whole neighbourhood. The most famous was perhaps the "Golden Ball" when the walls were draped in gold fabric, the dining table decorated in gold, and the guests sat on golden chairs. It is said that for one particular party, a special train was chartered from Paddington to bring all the drinks! Mr Turner was said always to tip porters at Hungerford station £5 a time.

A robery a Hungerford Park is said to have resulted in loss of jewels worth £20,000 (in the 1930s).

Canon Stephen Trapnell kindly contacted the Virtual Museum (Feb 2015) saying: "Many years ago, my mother, Ruth Trapnell, came across a newspaper cutting which contained a Victorian recipe for "Hungerford Park" Ale Cup, and added it to her ancient Recipe Book):

"Long-forgotten, I fear, is a famous old ale cup known as Hungerford Park:

It was made by slicing three or so apples,
Adding the peel and juice of a lemon,
A pinch of nutmeg,
Three bottles of Ginger Beer, (not ginger ale)
Half a bottle of Sherry
and two pints of good draught ale. (bitter)
Sweeten to taste, and chill.
Even as it stands, a sort of celestial shandy, but the Victorian book in which I found the recipe quotes 'a certain Colonel B' as observing that 'the addition of half a bottle of champagne makes it awfully good'. I shouldn't be a bit surprised."

Stephen Trapnell added: "About 50 years ago, I remember drinking the Ale Cup on a warm summer evening, and it was very refreshing!"

Inevitably the Second World War brought quieter times, his wife died in 1955, and Alfred Turner himself died aged 70 yrs after some years of illness in August 1956. There was much suprise at the modest amount left in his will, when it was published in 1957. See "Riddle of Rich Man's will", The People, 5 May 1957.

The de Waldens, 1958-present:

The estate was then sold to Lord Howard de Walden, whose country home was Avington Manor. It remains in the ownership of the family. (See advert for the sale, Jul 1956).

The house was unoccupied for a few years after 1956 and became dilapidated, so much so that it is reputed that the ballroom was used as a cattle shelter, and in 1960 it was demolished. Only the imposing gates and lodges remind us of its former glory.

Lord Howard de Walden died in July 1999 aged 86 years. See Obituary in The Times, and Obituary in the NWN.

In Jun 2003 the whole estate (in five lots) was put up for sale through FPD Savills for an asking price of £13 million (see "Estate on the market for £13 million", NWN 26.6.2003).

In the early 2010s, planning permission was granted for a new mansion on the site.

See also:

- Simon de Montfort

- Survey of Hungerford Park estate in 1821 (BRO D/EZ26/Z1)

- Kintbury Through the Ages, Kintbury Volunteer Group, 2004.

- Sale Particulars of 1928 Inglewood Estate

- Common Fields of Hungerford

- Common Port Down

- Grand cricket match at Hungerford Park, Jul 1852

- Hungerford Park [HHA Archives A04]