You are in [Places] [Newtown]
Hungerford Newtown is a small hamlet about two miles north of Eddington.
In early medieval times this was the manor of Hidden. Margaret Gelling (The Place-names of Berkshire, page 304) states that the name is derived from "valley with a landing place", and refers to a landing-place on the river Kennet, and the long valley that stretches from the Berkshire-Wiltshire boundary 4 miles north-west of Hungerford to the Kennet at Kintbury. It now includes names such as Wiltshire Bottom, Old Hayward Bottom, New Hayward Bottom and Radley Bottom. The names of the local farms - Great Hidden farm, Little Hidden farm, North Hidden farm reflect the early name. The ancestors of Norman Hidden, who did so much research into the medieval history of Hungerford, came from the Manor of Hidden.
The origins of the name "Newtown" (as opposed to "Hidden") are unclear. Some have proposed that it stems from the expansion of the manor as a centre of population outside the main town of Hungerford when it was affected by the plague, maybe in 1348-50 outbreak of the "Black Death", or at some later outbreak. There are many other "Newtowns" in the area - including Newbury Newtown, Shalbourne Newtown and Newtown Road Ramsbury. There is no evidence to support this proposal.
The earliest printed record of Newtown appears to be on Robert Morden's map of Berkshire, 1722 edition, where it is shown as a sizeable village along the road from Hungerford towards Wantage. It regularly appears on maps after this date.
The Probate Inventory of Charles Hammond "late of Newtown in the parish of Hungerford", 12th May 1736. [This is a very large Inventory. He may have been the owner of Newtown Lodge, now Lovelocks, but this is yet to be confirmed.]
By the 19th century, Newtown was a sizeable village with its own pub (the Oxford Arms, later the Tally Ho!), its own school and church, and its own post-office.
The 1841 census records 54 households, with 70 children aged 5-12 years and 22 babies under 5.
The NWN on 4 Sep 1879 reported "A young woman carrying a baby in her arms was forcibly removed screaming from Newbury County Magistrates Court on Thursday to serve a sentence of two months imprisonment for stealing a pound of butter from Hungerford Newtown shop".
- Robert Morden's Map of Berkshire, 1722 edition, showing Newtown
- Part of 1768 John Willis map showing Hungerford and Newtown
- Part of 1770/71 John Rocque map showing Newtown
- Part of 1792 Robertson map showing Newtown
- From 1880 6" OS Map
- Newtown shop and Post Office, 1912. [Tomkins, Swindon]
- The Yews, Newtown, 1912. [Tomkins, Swindon]
Recollections of Oliver Brown:
Oliver Brown kindly contributed some recollections of life in Newtown in the 1920-30s:
North Hidden Farm: Tenant farmer "Old" Mr Hughes. There were several cottages in the farm, some now demolished.
Little Hidden Farm: Tenanted by Mr Bert King. Three cottages in the village were with the farm - all now sold away from the farm.
Folly Farm: (not strictly part of Newtown, but Chilton Estate). tenants: Mr R King, and Mr J King (brothers of Bert King).
New Hayward Farm: Tenant Mr Harry New. Several cottages in the village.
In the days of minimal transport, we were very dependent on the local trades-people delivering:
Mr Joe Campion: Lived in Shefford Woodlands, came around the village early on Thursday morning with his order book, to attend Newbury market. He would take any produce to market, and collect any items required from the Newbury shops, returning late in the evening. I don't know in what manner he charged, whether so much an item or a percentage of the total, but he seemed to bring back just about anything, so must have known the life style of all his customers.
Mr Sawyer from Newbury: He had a long wheelbase Model T Ford van. Come to think of it, most of the tradesmen had Model Ts! This van was a proper Aladdin's Cave. Underneath was a paraffin tank which did a good trade for the oil lamps. Inside was basically a hardware store with just about everything including ½d bags of sweets. He had a small shop in Newbury where the Robin Hood now is. If he hadn't got an item on the van it would be brought next week. He also ran a simple repair service.
Sid Jesset, the baker: He had a Model T Ford, and came from the bakery in Eddington. I think he came 2-3 times a week, late in the evening, as he started out with Chilton Foliat, then Leverton and Hungerfod Newtown last. He always had a cup of tea with us. He might also bring small items of grocery to order.
Coalmen - Mr Beard, Mr Giles, Mr Alexander and Mr Lewington: They all delivered by horse and cart, later by a small lorry. The profit margin must have been very small.
Butchers - Mills, Cocker, Pratt: and
Grocers - Co-op, International: They all delviered in the 1930s when vans were more in use.
Postmen: This was usually Mr Hunt, who lived in Eddington. He had a complete wooden leg and pushed a bike along as a form of crutch. When he was riding, the leg stood out straight in front. He repaired boots and shoes, which he would collect and deliver. His post round was very large and included a box along Radley Bottom cross-roads.
Insurance Agents: The Compton Pilgrims was very popular as a Benefit Society. There was also a scheme for Savernake Hospital.
Electricity: Did not reach Hungerford Newtown until after Second World War.
Mains water: Arrived via the Lambourne Valley Water Scheme, possibly about 1933-34. Prior to that most cottages had their own wells (ours was 60 foot deep) although there was one common well, and also a pumped well in a field. This was the only one to maintain a supply in the drought of the early 1930s. A voluntary ration of one bucket per house per day. It only just held out.
In the hedge between the school and the church was a rather unique chain driven bucket pump which you wound a handle and water came up in small buckets which tipped in to a try and discharged out of a spout, Of course, as small boys, we thought it a great honour to be old to go and fetch water, as the handle was normally kept locked."
Recollections of John Brown about life in Newtown in the 1920s and 1930s:
(Based on an interview with Pamela Haseltine, c1991)
"Chilton Lodge estate, at that time occupied by the Wardfamily, had a large influence on village life. Remember, the land for the school had been given by Lady pearce.
Mr Hughes was the tenant farmer at North Hidden, where several cottages have since been demolished. Mr Bert King was at Folly Farm. While Mr Hughes son Les farmed Old Hayward, andMr Harry New was at New Hayward. The pinckney family were still living at Hidden cotage, and Mr Alright, the magistrate, was at The Yews.
What about services to the villagers? The ordinary residents, without transport of their own, would have found it a long walk from Hungerford, with loads of shopping. Mr Jessett, the baker from eddington, delivered 2-3 times a week, and would bring small items of grocery to order. There was a bakery in the house where Mr & Mrs Sperrey now live. The three butchers in Hungerford - Messrs Mills, Pratt and Cocker, delivered by van. Most of the tradesmen had Model-T Fords. The Co-op and International also delivered groceries, and coal came by horse and cart, delivered by mr beard, Mr Giles, Mr Alexander ad Mr Lewington. Electricity did not reach Hungerford Newtown until after World War II.
Until the arrival of the Lambourn Valley Water Scheme about 1933-34, water was drawn from local wells, which were sited in most cottage gardens. However, during one summer of severe drought, the only well to maintain a supply was inone of the fields. A rationing system of one bucket per household was agreed, and the supply just held out.
The post was delivered by Mr Hunt from Eddington, who also repaired boots and shoes. He had a wooden leg, which stuck out before him as he rode his bicycle over a fairly large postal round.
In addition to the reguar tradesmen's services, there were callers whose visits to the hamlet must have been a delight to schoolchildren. Mr Sawyer, who had a small shop in Newbury, brought his long wheelbase Model-T Ford, which was an Aladdin's Cave! It was filled with an assortment of hardware and useful objects for the household, just about everything incluing halfpenny bags of sweets! The aroma of paraffin, from the big tank underneath the van, permeated everthing! Oil lamps were the normal means of lihting, and during the summer, Primus type oil stoves were used for cooking.
Then there was Mr Joe Campion, who came from Shefford Woodlands early on a Thursday morning. He took produce to be sold at Newbury market, and collected ordes for goods from the market or shops in the town. He arrived back late in the evening, and seemed to have the fortunate knack of knowing just what his customers wanted"
Pat Gray recorded that the Electoral Register for Hidden was 60 in 1999 - only 6 more than in 1841. The adult population of Newtown was about 166 in 1999, less than in 1841, and 40 of these were in the Hungerford Nursing Home (in what was Hidden Cottage).
The census of 1841 showed 265 in Newtown.