The perfect place to reconnect with nature
The perfect place to enjoy a picnic, walk your dog, exercise, or simply sit and enjoy the views and wildlife. Hungerford Common, or Common Port Down to give one of its many other names, is 220 acres (89 hectares) of ancient common land, permanent pasture, mature trees, canal and strip lynchets, to the east of Hungerford.
Common Rights have been preserved here for more than six centuries, protecting the land from development since at least Edward III (1312-1377).
Today Hungerford Common is used by both Commoners and Farmers, who buy rights from the Town & Manor to graze cattle, and by all for recreation, relaxation and local events, such as the Hungerford Harey 8 running race and the visiting fair.
A very special place, Freeman’s Marsh covers 90 acres of wildlife habitat that straddles the Rivers Dun and Kennet, and the Avon Canal to the west of Hungerford. The marsh is home to a wide variety of wild birds, plants and animals – some of which are rare in southern England. It is also a place enjoyed by many people who live in Hungerford, and by visitors from further afield.
However, some of the wildlife species associated with the Marsh, such as water voles and ground-nesting birds, have declined over recent years.
Your help is needed now to ensure that you and your children are able to enjoy the wildlife of this special place far into the future.
The most ancient part of Hungerford, The Croft was the village green, before the ‘new’ town was laid out between 1180 and 1250. The Croft, or Church Croft as it’s also known, is roughly 1¼ acres of green space, surrounded by 100 year-old sweet chestnut trees, Glebe land and village cottages.
Originally known as Town Croft, The Croft was given to the townsfolk in 1550 by John Undewes and his wife, ‘to hold fairs and to sport therein’, in exchange for the princely sum of a red rose each year, if requested (it never was).
In 1617, The Croft formed part of the lands passed by James I into the trusteeship of the Town & Manor.
To enable the Town & Manor to meet the costs of maintaining and caring for this land, The Croft, along with the Hungerford Common and Freeman’s Marsh, was registered under the Commons Act of 1965. This effectively preserves The Croft as the Village Green in perpetuity, as a historically important piece of Hungerford’s open space, preventing development and encroachment by cars and other vehicles. The Croft is the village green and is registered under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act (2000/04) and is managed according to these regulations.
At the Town and Manor, we don’t just care for inherited land, we also do what we can to acquire land, to ensure its ongoing protection.
In 2015 we were delighted to be able to add Hungerford Marsh Nature Reserve, almost 28 acres of rough pasture and marshland with a section of chalk stream river, to the lands already owned and protected by the Town & Manor charity, which include the Common Port Down, Freeman’s Marsh and The Croft. The land sits between the west edge of Hungerford Town and Freeman’s Marsh.
This rare wildlife habitat will now be protected from future development and maintained as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Part of our role as guardian of this important stretch of land will be to improve the existing wildlife habitat in line with the recommendations of Natural England as part of a Higher Stewardship Scheme.
While we appreciate that it’s lovely to be able to walk these untouched stretches of land, to help preserve the delicate environmental balance, please could you follow the clearly marked pathways. We hope you understand and support the delicate balance and significance of the area.
The Trustees of the Town & Manor wish to thank the previous owners for entrusting the future of this land to them for the benefit of the town and recognise their desire for it to be maintained as area of natural environment.
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