Hungerford is officially twinned with the town of Ligueil in Indre-et-Loire, France.
In 1978 the annual parish meeting gave agreement for the Town Council to seek for a French partner. After several early attempts failed, Hungerford made approaches through the British Council and the E.U., who were offering generous funding to twinning arrangements as a means of encouraging better international relationships. See "Meeting re twinning with Monpazier", Jun 1979).
In February 1980 the Canneton family from Ligueil arrived in Hungerford without prior warning. Contact was made with Mayor Jack Williams and events then moved quickly. A delegation from Hungerford (Jack Williams as Mayor, Robert James as Constable, Dennis Simmonds and Mansil Morgan) visited Ligueil in May 1980, and a group from Ligueil visited Hungerford in July (see "Proposed twinning with Ligueuil", 29 Apr 1980, and "Busy schedule for French delegation" - NWN 10 Jul 1980, and "Twinning of town looks almost certain after weekend visit by French" - NWN 17 Jul 1980). A target date was set for Charters to be signed between the two towns.
On a cold snowy day, 29 November 1980 the Charter was signed in Ligueil, the ceremony was attended by 34 people from Hungerford. Jack Williams cut the ribbon naming "Rue de Hungerford". See"Historic ceremony binds Hungerford and Ligueil together" - NWN 4 Dec 1980.
This was followed by a similar ceremony in Hungerford on St Valentine's Day 14th February 1981. Over 600 people attended the ceremony at Hungerford on a brilliant sunny day. See the full page report "Hungerford welcomes their Twin Town Ligueil!" - NWN 19 Feb 1981.
(The original membership cards recorded that the Twinning Charters were signed by Jack Williams and Michel Guignaudeau in Ligueil on Saturday 1st December 1980, and in Hungerford in Saturday 1st February 1981.)
Since 1980 there have been many group delegations to and from the two towns including the Fire Brigade, the Round Table, the Town Band and almost immediately the John o' Gaunt School entered into a regular pattern of visits. Since the Charter was signed, Hungerford has been represented at every Commice (a regional cultural and agricultural celebration) held in Ligueil every six years.
The first twinning visit included visits to Arkell's Brewery, Radley Farm, St Lawrence Church, the Fire Station, the Ambulance Station, John o' Gaunt School, the Three Swans and the Antiques Arcade. David Liddiard arranged a hot-air balloon launch, Harry Dodson showed off his flowers at Chilton Gardens. Roger Beard and Vic Lardner arranged a "Race Nite" with the Cricket Club, with a lunch was held at the Bear Hotel. The Hungerford Youth Band played wonderfully moving music at the Bridge Street War Memorial.
The success of twinning has been maintained since and many long term friendships have evolved between Hungerford and Ligueil families. Regular bi-annual visits take place in which families of both towns visit Hungerford and Ligueil.
In 2006 both towns celebrated 25 years of successful twinning, and November 2010 was the 30th Anniversary of the initial charter signing.
The 40th Anniversary Sundial:
In January 2020 it became public knowledge that the sundial gifted to Hungerford by Ligueil in 2010 had been damaged c2017 when the tri-service station was built in Church Street. See "Anger after twin town's sundial gift is smashed", NWN 16 Jan 2020.
An article in Penny Post (20th May 2022) wrote:
"We’ve spent several delightful holidays near Ligueil in central France as a result of the Hungerford Twinning Association and have, on alternate years except when Covid had other ideas, entertained Thèrese and Regis Joubert and their family in East Garston. The association, formed in 1980, was presented with a stone sundial by its counterpart in Ligueil in 1990 which was mounted on the wall off the fire station. Unfortunately, this was first removed, then lost and finally discovered to have been badly damaged when this was rebuilt to become the tri-service station in 2017. An article on p26 of this week’s NWN describes the various discussions with the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service about who should pay for the replacement: after pressure was applied by the Twinning Association and local ward member Dennis Benneyworth, it seems that the RBFRS, whose contractors had done the damage, has agreed to write out the cheque.
The new sundial is to be installed on the front wall of the Hungerford Library Hub, and an inauguration ceremony will take place starting at 10.30am on Sunday 29 May. “We do not expect it to be a huge event,” Penny Brookman of the Hungerford Twinning Association said, “but we do expect, besides Hungerford dignitaries, a number of people to attend who have been involved in various ways in the links between the two towns, and sincerely hope that as many members as possible will be able to attend, and join us in the library for refreshments afterwards.”
That’s not the only permanent reminder of the association between the two towns. An anniversary plaque, to be fixed to the front wall of the Corn Exchange on Saturday 4 June and, Penny Brookman continues, “the Town and Manor has generously offered the use of the Town Hall for a small reception afterwards. The plaque was created in 2020 to commemorate 40 years of our Association and the town’s links with our twin town. The French Mayor has been invited by the Mayor of Hungerford to visit for the Jubilee weekend and to attend this event representing jumelage with Ligueil. We hope that members and friends of Twinning will encourage representatives of town organisations and families to join us to help us celebrate.” This would also be a good opportunity to find out more about the twinning association and how you can get involved."
The local stonemason Barry Humphries created the replacement, using photographs of the original. It was unveiled by Jason Nash ( Firefighter). It was said that the Mayor of Hungerford, Helen Simpson, kissed nearly everyone there!
The new sundial was installed on the wall of the town library and town council offices in Church Street on Sunday, 29th May 2022.
- The Mayor of Ligueil, M. Guignaudeau, with Jack Williams (Mayor) and Robert James (Constable) during the Charter signing, 14 Feb 1981
- Hot-air Balloons at St Lawrence's Church, Feb 1981
- Ligueil fleurs
- Ligueil jeux
- Twinning Celebrations 14 Feb 1981
- The carved Ligueil plaque, (H.37.0 x w.28.5 x d.5.4cm).
- The new Twinning Sundial, 28th May 2022.
- Celebrating the new Twinning Sundial, 28th May 2022.
- Jack Williams with the Ligueil plaque, 14 Feb 1981.
- Twinning visit 14 Feb 1981 [Ivor Speed].
- "Hungerford Twinning", H'ford & Dist Times, 12 Sep 1990. (from Stewart Hofgartner)