Hungerford, Berkshire, England

Hungerford Town Hall


Hungerford is the only place in the county to have continuously celebrated Hocktide, which takes place on the second Tuesday after Easter. In the past it was a general celebration associated with the town’s great patron, John of Gaunt. Its origins are thought to lie in celebrations following King Alfred’s expulsion of the Danes.


The ‘Bellman’ (or Town Crier) “summons the Commoners of the town” to the Hocktide Court that is held at the Town Hall. Meanwhile, two florally-decorated ‘Tutti Men’ and a number of ‘Orange Men’ visit all the houses with commoners’ rights (approximately 100 properties), accompanied by around six ‘Tutti Girls’, who are from the local school. Originally they collected ‘Head Pennies’ to ensure fishing and grazing rights.


Nowadays, they collect kisses from each lady of the house. In the court, the town’s officers are elected for the coming year and the accounts examined. The court manages the town hall, the John of Gaunt Inn, the Common, Freemen’s Marsh, and the fishing rights in the Rivers Kennet and Dun.


For further information, please read Haunted Britain by Antony D. Hippisley Coxe.


As the A338 heads south of Hungerford, the road is said to be haunted by the ghost of a female riding a grey horse during daylight hours. However, after nightfall the same female phantom is to be seen in a coach and four.


For further information, please read Haunted Britain by Antony D. Hippisley Coxe.

Littlecote House Hotel

The house is haunted by a number of apparitions, of which three seemed to stem from one tragic and barbaric story.


One stormy night in November 15 75, the midwife of Great Shefford – the lady named Mrs Barnes – was blindfolded and led to a large house to assist a woman in childbirth. When she arrived in the blindfold was removed she saw that the pregnant woman wore mask concealing her identity.


Also in the room was a man she later described as being of "haughty and ferocious looks". Mrs Barnes delivered the baby, only for it to be snatched from her by the man, who callously through the child into the fire and "grounded into the red hot embers" with his boot, regardless of the pitiful screams of the mother.


The quick thinking midwife at a piece of cloth from the bed hangings in the chamber, and it was this piece of evidence that later identified the house as Littlecoat Manor and the evil man as "Wild William Darrell". Although never punished for his heinous crime, Darrell met a violent end whilst riding his horse. Some say his horse shied upon the sight of the ghost of the burning baby, throwing the wicked Darrell from his horse and killing him. However, it appears that the man himself now frequents the area in company with a pack of spectral hounds.


The ghost of a woman holding a baby haunts the room in which the murder took place. The identity of the female has been of much speculation, but all are certain that Darrell himself fathered the baby. Other ghosts in this fine building is said to be that of Mrs Laybourne Popham; a female spectre in the Chinese Bedroom; a female with a rush light; and a male apparition in the Long Gallery believed to be Gerard Lee Bevin who rented the property after the First World Wall and served a prison sentence for embezzlement.


This certainly is a building with a wonderful haunted heritage - and a quality night’s stay!

Littlecote House Hotel,



RG17 0SU.


For further information, please visit:

For further information, please read Ghosts of Berkshire by Ian McLoughlin, Haunted Berkshire by Roger Long, Haunted Britain by Antony D. Hippisley Coxe and Britain's Haunted Heritage by J.A. Brooks.


Visitor Information

Hungerford is a market town in Berkshire, England.

It is situated at 9 miles west of Newbury on the river done in the Kennet Valley, and lies within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Pictured left is the Town Hall.

Pictured is a view of Hungerford Town Hall courtesy of Stewart Snowball.