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The Barracks stood alongside the A4 Bath Road about one mile west of Hungerford, just to the east of Highclose Farm. They are shown clearly on the 1925 OS map (see Photo Gallery). Officers lived at Highclose Farm.
- Origins unclear.
- Abandoned for military use by at least 1861, when four dwellings with 50 occupants.
- Partly demolished in c1939 when A4 widened and straightened.
- Remainder demolished c1970
- 1925 OS map showing The Barracks
The origins of The Barracks at Highclose are as yet unclear.
Large, permanent barracks were developed in the 18th century by the two dominant states of the period, France and Spain. The English term "barrack", on the other hand, derives form the Spanish word for a temporary shelter erected by soldiers on campaign, barraca. In England, barracks started to be built after 1790, during the Napoleonic War.
It is possible that the Highclose Barracks were one of the many barracks established across the country to provide temporary accommodation for army units as they were moved around the country at that time. [It is thought that they were not to do with the important local Hungerford Troop of Berkshire Yeomanry, formed in 1794].
Each County had a fixed quota of men to raise. In the 17th and 18th century, all landowners had to provide horses, arms and men in proportion to the property they owned.
Under the Militia Act 1757, responsibility was transferred to the Parish. The Parish Constable was responsible for organising the Parochial Contributions to the County Militia.
Regiments stationed at The Barracks:
The following regiments are thought to have been stationed at The Barracks:
- 1722: Col Clayton's Regiment (Mr Lister was Chaplain)
- 1722 Brigadier Spanswick's Regiment (Mr Ball was Chaplain)
- 1734: The Hon Col Hargreave's Regiment of Foot
- 1761 Lord Albermarle Regiment
- 1779 & 1780: Somerset Militia
- 1782 - West Kennet Militia
- 1782 - 1st Regimnent of Dragoon Guards
- 18??-1806: 62nd Regiment of Foot
- 1807: 96th Regiment of Foot
- 1808: 14th Light Dragoons
- 1809: Plymouth Division of Royal Marines
- 18?? Regiment of Foot, 2nd Battallion (The Buffs)
- 1810: East Suffolk Militia
- 1817: Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards
- 1843: 4th Regiment, Madras, North India.
Also: 6th (or Inniskilling) Regiment of Dragoons; 70th Regiment of Foot; West Somerset Regiment; West Kent Regiment; Wiltshire Militia and 34th Regiment of Foot.
Kay emailed (Sep 2019) to add: "My 4th great grandfather Zacharias Berry (of Hungerford) was married (to Mary Smith of Hungerford) at St Lawrence Church Hungerford 16 Nov 1812. Notes stated that "Zacahrias is a soldier in 3rd Regt of Buffs" so I assume the regiment must have been at The Barracks in 1812."
Further references from “Wiltshire, England, Marriages, 1538-1837” marriage records for the period indicate some movement of regiments at the Barracks:
- 3rd Regt of Buffs - 1812: Zacharias Berry married Mary Smith at St Lawrence Church Hungerford on 16 Nov 1812. Original Notes: "Zacahrias is a soldier in 3rd Regt of Buffs".
- Royal Artillery - 1814: John Kidgley married Sarah Whitely at St Lawrence Church Hungerford on 3 Oct 1814. Original Notes: “John Is Of Royal Artillery.”
- The Royal Horse Guards (Regt Of Oxford Blues) - 1815: William Butterton married Ann Travis at St Lawrence Church Hungerford on 7 Feb 1815. Original Notes: “William Is Of Regt Of Oxford Blues”
- 8th Regt Of Infantry – 1815 / 1816: Joseph Savage married Sarah Nobes at St Lawrence Church Hungerford on 31 Dec 1815. Original Notes: “Joseph Is A Private In 8th Regt Of Infantry.”
- Edward Rudd married Elizabeth Canning at St Lawrence Church Hungerford on 21 Jan 1816, Original Notes: “Edward Is Of 8th Regt Of Infantry”
The Ordnance Depot:
The Barracks may have been associated with the large Ordnance Depot that was built in 1813-14 at Picket Field just to the west of Highclose Farm (near the site of the remaining World War II pillbox).
The Wilts & Swindon History Centre holds the "Deeds of Picket field part of Hopgrass Farm, Hungerford, Wilts., sold by Popham to Maj. Gen. Congrieve for the King in 1806 and sold back in 1821 with the building standing there".
Picketfield Lock (on the Kennet & Avon Canal) is nearby, between Cobbler's Lock and Froxfield Bottom Lock.
Picket Field is not to be confused with Picket Mead - an area of orchard to the east of Hungerford (to the south of the A4, opposite Dobbies Garden Centre).
By the mid Victorian period, The Barracks were used for ordinary (non-military) accommodation. The 1861 Census lists about 50 people in five dwellings. They were ploughboys, sawyers, carters, carpenters, a laundress, as well as many agricultural labourers and scholars.
Barry Franklin kindly emailed (February 2022) to add "With reference to occupation of The Barracks, my grandmother lived there from 1880 when she was born until at least 1894 when she left school.
She gained employment at Highclere Castle as a maid for Lord Carnarvon and was there a few years.
Here parents were Charles and Annie Palmer who are the couple on your census, and they remained there until Annie died in 1927 and Charles died in 1930.
My grandmother left Highclere Castle and got a job at a house in Thatcham where she met my grandfather whomshe married in 1905 at Hungerford Church. She remained in Thatcham until her death in 1959."
Anne Parfitt emailed (Jun 2005) to say that "I knew The Barracks well as a child because my grandparents (who were both Pikes - 1st cousins - from Froxfield/ Bedwyn/ Ramsbury." lived there for about 50 years, right up until the time the block was demolished".
The Barracks were partly demolished c1939 when the Bath Road was straightened and widened between Strongrove and Froxfield. The remaining dwellings were demolished in c1970 prior to the area being developed by Alan Holland and Robert James as a Pick-your-own strawberry farm. (Thanks to Robert James for this information).
66: Charles Palmer (46), Packer on Railway, wife Annie (44), 1 son, 1 mother-in-law, 1 visitor
67: Annie Smith (28) Soldier's wife, 2 sons, 3 daughters.
68: William Andrews (45), Plate layer on Railway, 1 son, 1 mother.
69: Thomas Liddiard (38), Packer on Railway, 1 daughter, 1 mother.
70: William Underwood (62), Drayman on farm, wife Mary (32), 2 sons.
71: George Liddiard (60), Railway Carpenter, wife Jane (61).
72: Walter Midlenhall (58), Carter on ..?.., wife Ann (51), 1 son.
73: Elizabeth Dixon (64), on own means, 4 ?sons, 1 daughter-in-law