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All towns and villages had a town pond. It was usually on the green in the middle of the town - rather like the splendid surviving village pond at nearby Aldbourne, Wiltshire.

In Hungerford it was rather different. The town pond was half way up the slope of the High Street (outside what is now 35 High Street), and it served a rather different purpose.

Certainly, in the 17th century, the Town Hall was surrounded by the usual pillory, stocks, whipping-post and ducking-stool. The ducking-stool would have been wheeled up the High Street where miscreants would have had their public humiliation to correct them of their ways.

But its main purpose was quite different. The abstracts from the Constables Accounts below show just how much effort went into maintaining the pond full of water.

It was surrounded by rails, and some lime trees were planted around it in 1718. They failed to survive, and were replaced by firs. The pond was eventually filled up in 1805.

Its purpose was as a reservoir of water for use by the local men to put out any fires in the upper (southern) part of the street. The northern part of the town was well served by the river Dun, but the slope up the High Street required a water supply on the higher ground - hence the importance of the town pond.

Click for more about fires in Hungerford, or for more about fire engines.

Photo Gallery:

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map_francis pond map_francis pond
town hall 09
town hall 09 town hall 09

- The High Street pond, marked on the Francis map of 1794

- From painting by George Shepherd, 1821 showing stocks and whipping-post outside the Town Hall

Extracts from the Constables' Accounts:

The following are extracts from the Constables' Accounts 1658-1736, and give an idea of the amount of work put in to maintain the pond in good condition. (The Day rate at this time appears to be approximately 2s 0d

1659-60 Paid Thomas Curre for 3 days work at the pond 2s 6d
Paid Thomas Sare for 2 days work at the pond 2s 8d
Mr Sayres (Sawyer?) for slitting two planks to make rails for the pond 4d
Paid for a plank and 6 pyles for the pond 3s
Paid Robert Kember for 2½ days work at the pond 4s 2d
Paid Adrian Pollerne for 3 planks and 2 posts for the pond 8s 0d
1669/70 Received for stones that came out of the pond 8s 0d
July 30 Paid to William Cannon and John Hayward for digging the town pond - £1 19s 0d
1701 Pd Clement Cooper for work about the pond 00 01 06
Pd William Rosier & his son for a dayes work about the Townd Pond 00 01 06
Pd Clement Cooper for work at Sheepbridge & ye pond 00 04 00
Pd Zachary Turton for nailes & plates for Shipbridge & the Town pond (etc) 00 15 10
Pd Robert Tuck as appears by his bill about the pond, ye pillory, the shambles the clock
house & sheepbridge 05 00 08
1705 Pd Dennis for diggin in the ponde 00 02 00
Pd Rosher for diggen in the ponde 00 02 00
Pd for nailes 00 00 02
Pd Jno Ball for a slouse(?) for ye ponde 00 03 00
Pd Robert Tuck for timber for ye ponde 02 16 00
1707 Pd for ?iding the Tound pond 00 01 00
Pd for withs for the fagots att the tound pond 00 00 03
1709 pd for a raile for the pond 00 00 06
1710 pd John Healer for manden the Town pond 00 01 09
1712 Pd for 2 planches for ye townd pond & to pises to keep them up 00 05 00
1713 Paid John Povey for mending the Town pond and for putting in of a rayle for Sanum Down gatte 00 06 06
1715 pd Henry Tuck for ….. 9 foot of plank for ye pond … 00 19 04
pd John Povey for mending the Pond ….. and for mending the pond after ye fier …. 00 13 11
pd Thomas Lewis for cleaning ye musket & for two watch bills and a lock and staple & for
nails for ship bridge and for plates for the town pond & nails for the pond for mending
the Ingen & for altering the fier crooks as appears by his bill 03 14 06
pd Mr John Butler for 16 of nails used at the town pond and for Drawing an Estimate 00 08 00
1717 pd Farmer Jinings for 6 withey setts for the ponde 00 01 06
pd John Sieny & his son for ffeching them & setting them 00 02 00
pd for buchis & lugs used aboute the setts 00 01 00
1718 Rec'd of Mr Seadgly for the crowns of som of the pond withies 00 06 00
Rec'd of John Noone for sum of the pond withays 00 09 00
Pd Roger Pike for lorn work for the pound and pond and church wickets 00 05 08
pd for cutting down sum of the pond withys and clearing them out 00 01 10
pd for 16 lime trees to sett around the pond 00 16 00
pd Tho. Tow for mould to sett them in 00 07 00
pd the gardner & 4 men to sett the treese 00 11 07
pd John Povey for 5 days and halfe to stake around the treese 00 05 06
pd for Lugs to make an end of stakeing them 00 02 06
pd for a hand barough 00 00 08
pd Farmer Buttler for fechin the lime trees 00 03 00
pd Jos Povey for dung for the lime trees round the pond 00 00 06
1719 pd Tho Siney for watering the trees at the Towne pond 00 01 00
1720 Paid for 3 lime trees (where?) 00 03 00
Pd Tho. Noone for seting them and other work doen there 00 02 00
Pd John Siney for Work about ye Pond 00 01 00
1721 Paid for Bushes and workmanshipo Round ye trees of the town poand 00 03 06
1722 Pd for 2 lime trees and setting them (?where) 00 02 08
Pd Labourers for throwing the mud out of the town pond 01 19 08
Pd for bushing the treese round ye pond 00 03 04
1723 Pd for Cuting the Trees at the Pond 00 02 00
Paid for Bushing the Trees at ye Pond 00 02 00
1725 Pd Jno Rosher for bushing the trees at the town pond 00 02 00
Pd John Siny for Turning water into the Town pond 0 2 0
1726 pd John Siney for cutting 9 trees at ye pond 00 01 06
3 Rails for the Town Pond 00 02 00
pd John Siney for turning water into the Town pond 00 01 00
1727 pd for nails & work for ye pond 0 0 5
pd John Siny for Bushing 12 Trees at the Town pond 0 2 0
pd for clearing the carriage to the Town pond 0 1 0
pd more for bushes and workmanship at the Town pond 00 3 0
1729 pd Francis noon for 2 days worke at the pond to grafil round the bank 00 2 0
pd John pettefar for on days worke at the pond to grafil round the banke 00 1 0
pd Thomas gills for diging grafil and 4 days worke beside at the pond 00 10 0
pd for feching 12 loade of grafil to lay Round the pond 00 12 0
paid Thomas sine for turning the Water into the pond for the hole year 00 1 0
1730 Paid Thomas Siney for turning the water into the pond 00 01 00
1731 Pd Tho Sieny for Turneing the watter in the Towne ponde 00 01 00
1732 Paid Thomas Siney for Turning ye Water into ye Pond 0 1 0
1733 Pd Thos Nalder a Day's Work at ye Town Pond 00 1 6
Pd For nails and work to mend the Bridge and Pond 00 00 6
Pd Thomas Willmot for mending the Bridge & pond 00 2 00
1734 Pd Thomas Siney for putting up a Tree & Luggs at the Pond 0 0 6
Pd the same for putting the Water into the Town pond 0 1 0
1735 Pd for Labout working abt the Pond 02 02 6
[the above entry after entries for sand, white earth, stones and carriage]
Pd Thomas Siney for himself & mans two Days work at the Pond & for Turning the Water
into same 00 5 6
Pd John Patey for cutting the Trees Round the Pond 00 02 6
1736 Pd for moving of the mud att the pond 00 01 00
Pd Thomas Siney for turning of the water in to the pond 00 01 00

See also:

- Fires and Fire Fighting