Thursday, 27 November 2014

Hungerford Arcade: Treasure Detective Needs Your Help for West African Ebola Crisis

TV's Treasure Detectives, Curtis Dowling and Andy Smith from CNBC Primes, are preparing to put their lives at risk by travelling to West Africa with a TV crew to raise awareness of the seriousness of Ebola in the region.  They will be holding talks with the Government of Ghana and major health stakeholders on how to liaise with them in terms of managing Ghana and West Africa's response to the Ebola Crisis.  Curtis and Andy have been raising money from the TV, film companies and Antiques shops to enable this important mission to go ahead. Unfortunately, they are £2000 short of the total they need and bearing in mind that they are due to fly out from the UK on 15th December, time is very short.

We at Hungerford Arcade are doing our bit to raise money, but anything you can give would be gratefully appreciated by everyone.

Anything you can give, big or small, you can transfer funds to the following account:

Lloyds TSB, 30 Market Hill, Sudbury Branch, Suffolk, CO10 2EL, England
Account number: 22809260
Sort code: 30-98-31
IBAN: GB96LOYD30983122809260

Curtis Dowling told Modern Ghana in an interview. "With the TV and film community coming together to support the struggle to suppress Ebola in West Africa the hosts of CNBC's/UKTV's Treasure Detectives are travelling to West Africa to raise awareness, get on all the radio and TV channels in the region and a mission to discuss with the President or Vice President of Ghana the distribution of an aid fund they have started to organise. Andy Smith and Curtis Dowling are prepared to put themselves into the lion’s mouth to get the world talking even more,”  He adds that the aim is to raise awareness of the plight of West Africa, medically and economically and to help by showing support in the long term against Ebola.

“Ghana is the perfect venue for a staging post to deliver help and aid to other parts of West Africa who are suffering more. The excellent infrastructure, the forward thinking and the excellent facilities. We believe our voice can be loud due to our position in the media. We can bring the situation to a wider audience and through our own experiences in west Africa report back in a 'none news way' how things are developing and what is being done. Our own project hopefully bringing in more help and more support in many ways to the regions most in need”

A word from Curtis:

Our impending trip to Liberia:

To distribute aid with contributions by a few US companies

To meet with the press (40 interviews planned) to highlight the country crisis after the ebola disease has been contained

To film good work projects by the CDC and Geneva Global in the hope our short films attract more investors

Can you support us? We are short £2000 and any kind of contribution would be fabulous.

So you know who we are, I have added the links below.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Hungerford Arcade: Historic Find of the Original King James Bible

A good friend of Hungerford Arcade and a resident in the village of Hilmarton, has written a wonderful article on the discovery in his local church of the original King James Bible. I am sure you will enjoy reading about this historic find.

 St.Laurence church, Hilmarton, Wiltshire, England

The sad passing of Sir Donald Sinden CBE this September, prompted a repeat of the story of the discovery of an original King James Bible in the local parish church of St Laurence Hilmarton
in Wiltshire.. Sir Donald was a great supporter of The King James Bible not least because of the wonderful language it brought in to influence English Literature. In 1988 he wrote a book and presented a documentary series on BBC TV about his love of ‘The English Country Church’, inspired by his grandfather's architectural drawings and watercolours. He also attended a service of commemoration at Westminster Abbey on 16th November 2011 in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen to acknowledge the 400th Anniversary of the great work, of which more later.  

In the months leading up to the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible, members of St Laurence Church Hilmarton discovered that an old Bible that had rested on a shelf at the back of the church for as many years as anyone can remember, was an original printed in 1611 by the King’s printer Robert Barker. The background is as follows:   

On the west wall above the shelf was an old sign stating that “this fragment of the Holy Scriptures” (the first five chapters of Genesis unfortunately being missing) 
“was found in the Parish Chest, with its chain attached to it and was restored in 1857 and placed in the Church on March 13th, 1858”.  The sign goes on to state that “The carved oak binding was entirely the work of the hands of the Reverend Francis Fisher, Vicar of this Parish, who died in October, 1858.  This Bible is the Second of two impressions printed in 1611.”  A stained glass window on the North Aisle depicting Christ as the Good Shepherd is dedicated to the Revd Fisher.   

According to the Victoria County History for Wiltshire, “A black letter chained bible, found in the parish chest in 1857, is kept in a glass case in the church”. Of this case there is now no trace, and within living memory, until very recently, the Bible was kept on the open shelf attached to the west wall, where perhaps inevitably it was subjected to minor damage. Could the ‘legend’ be true?

Anniversary Celebrations 

In June 2010 the Parochial Church Council (PCC) consulted the Revd David Smith DD of London, England, owner and curator of one of the most extensive private libraries of English Bibles and ancient religious texts in the world.  The Revd Smith advised that the Bible was an example of the ‘Great She Bible’ so called because of the misprints (Ruth3:15 “and she went into the city”). and “Judas” Bible, (Mat.26:36, “Judas” for “Jesus”). He judged that the chain was most likely to be original, which together with the unique carved binding added greatly to the Bible’s historical interest.  Although lessened by the missing portion and by the trimming of page-ends by the Victorian restorers, the value placed upon the Bible by the Revd Smith was substantial, requiring the PCC to consider most carefully the Bible’s security and preservation for future generations.   

Anniversary Celebrations 

To mark the 400th Anniversary of the 1611 King James Bible, the St Laurence Church Parochial Church Council commissioned a bespoke oak and glass case to allow this rare and historic artifact to be displayed securely and  to be used for at least the next 400 years.   Living within the Benefice was a master artist, designer and woodworker who had built furniture, upward of 20 wooden thrones for visiting Archbishops, and for the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace.  He was asked to design and make a new display case of contemporary design to reflect today’s commemoration of this rare and historical treasure. 

Following a masterful broadcast by CNN's London correspondent Richard Greene, the church was fortunate enough to receive a number of unsolicited donations from well-wishers in the USA, but most of the funds were donated by generous local individuals and businesses and also heritage trusts.  

The CNN broadcast:  

 Here is the finished article.  

Summoned to Westminster Abbey
The congregation of St Laurence Church were honoured to receive an invitation from the King James Bible Trust to take the Bible to Westminster Abbey for a special service on 16th November 2011, to mark the Bible's 400th Anniversary.   

Her Majesty The Queen accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales attended the service of celebration, in association with the King James Bible Trust. The then Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams gave the Address. The St Laurence Bible was one of five placed on the high altar for the service.  

The Church and its Bible are worth a visit and details can be found on the website ‘A Church Near You’ If you want to bring a group, this can be arranged and a short talk on the history of the church and the parish can also be organised given time.  

For those with access to an ‘i pad’ more information on the parish may be found at the ‘APPLE’ store. A Free ‘App’ entitled Hilmarton A Parish Celebration and a brief history also appears below.  

St Laurence  Parish and Church 

St Laurence Church stands at the heart of our parish of Hilmarton in North Wiltshire and dates back to the 12thCentury. The first known Vicar, John Pencoyt became the incumbent in 1297.  Notable features of our church include a nave roof and painted Chancel screen dating from the 15th century, and a pre-reformation door to the Tower which was re-modelled in 1840 and houses a peal of six bells, the oldest dating from 1450 and which are still regularly rung by an enthusiastic team.    

The west window in the north aisle is dedicated to St George and General Gordon, and is the parish War Memorial to those men lost from the parish during the Great War 1914-1918. Brass plaques on each side of the window display the names of the fallen and a plaque below the window contains the names of those lost in World War Two. On the East wall a window above the altar depicts our Patron St. Laurence holding a gridiron (which as you know was the grisly instrument of his martyrdom).

Geoff  Procter

Friday, 14 November 2014

Hungerford Arcade: American Sisters Visit Hungerford Arcade

Suzanne Chenoweth and her sister, Jackie Pierce paid us a wonderful compliment when they visited us.  Jackie said they have come all the way from Birmingham, Alabama, USA and had just landed at Heathrow Airport.  They were so excited about coming to Hungerford Arcade and instead of going straight to their hotel, they rented a car and drove all the way to Hungerford and couldn't get in the door quick enough! Suzanne and Jackie spent many hours with us and loved every second of it.

 For all the latest news, go to our Newsletter at

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Hungerford Town Christmas Tree Goes Up

A huge lorry pulled up outside the Arcade this morning, with an equally huge tree on the back.  Bystanders watched as the small team of men strapped the tree to the crane and lifted it into place in only a matter of minutes.  At 30 feet tall, the tree will be the centre of attention when the lights up and down the High Street are officially switched on in the evening of the 30th November.  Don't forget to buy tickets for the grand prize draw which helps to pay for Hungerford's fantastic lights.   As always the lights are organised and overseen by Rod Demeules, a real community player and we would like to thank him for all his hard work.
Watch this space for pictures of the switch on!

Monday, 10 November 2014


The excitement of the great Christmas Lights switch-on is fantastic. Up and down the High Street will be lit up in beautiful colour.  The magnificent 30ft Christmas Tree has already arrived and will be at the centre of the display looking absolutely stunning. Of course, Father Christmas will be arriving and the children will be in 'Wonderland' (as will the adults). It is an event not to be missed.

There are fabulous prizes  to be won in the Christmas Lights Grand Prize Draw. As well as cash prizes there are lots of other great prizes donated by the Hungerford traders. Tickets cost just £1 and all the proceeds go towards the cost of the Christmas lights. 

You can get your raffle tickets from The Town Council Offices (next to The Library) and here at Hungerford Arcade.

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Remembrance Day in Hungerford 9th November 2014

WO1 (RSM) James Cooper
6th Armoured Close Support
Battalion REME
It was early morning and Hungerford was bathed in beautiful sunshine. Everyone was getting ready for the Remembrance Day Parade.  The crowds came out early lining the street waiting for the procession to move off.  It was a wonderful sight seeing all the service men and women who came to remember their fallen comrades from WWI, WWII right up to the present day. It was very moving.  The 6th Armoured Support Battalion REME (who have the Freedom of the Town), led by WO1 (RSM) James Cooper, were magnificent.  The Hungerford Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Girl Guides were very smart and confident as they lined up with their flags leading the way.  The band played as they marched through the High Street to the War Memorial for the Service of Remembrance.  As the Town Hall clock struck 11.00, the town fell silent for two minutes to remember all the fallen.
6th Armoured Close Support
Battalion REME

Ex RAOC John M Eman
Ex Para: Martin Jelly


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Friday, 7 November 2014

Hungerford Arcade: General Dwight D Eisenhower on Hungerford Common - A Remarkable History

Our great author, Stuart Miller-Osborne has written a wonderful article about Hungerford Common - the history of which is fascinating.  The Common is a very beautiful place and Stuart has captured everything we all love about it.  It is one I shall read over and over again.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

Although it cannot be seen from the High Street in Hungerford, the presence of the common can be felt by all. It is indeed the lung of Hungerford.

Whilst we are surrounded on all sides by the most glorious countryside, Hungerford Common has a special place in the hearts of all who live in the town. 

We however do tend to take this vast area for granted somewhat and would miss it greatly if it was buried under yet another housing development. This will not happen due to its unique part in the history of the town. 

If you are a visitor to Hungerford then you can find the common very easily. Just drive or walk up Park Street (which is almost opposite Hungerford Arcade).

Hungerford Common is only a couple of minutes away. If you do walk please be careful as Park Street is a little narrow in places and does not have a pavement for its full duration. 

The first thing you will notice when you find the common is how vast it is. It has been measured at some two hundred and twenty acres. There is an inn called The Downgate immediately to your right (which is highly recommended) and to your left, stunning views over the railway, canal and the water meadows. The road in front of you rises slightly and is pleasantly bordered by an avenue of trees.

The other thing you will notice are the cows which appear to be everywhere. The area is used by our bovine friends (usually yearlings) between April and late October each year. There are usually around one hundred and fifty of them and road signs warn motorist of their presence. In my experience the creatures are quite docile but with all large animals common sense is an advantage. 

One other thing to look out for are the gifts left in the grass which if you are not very careful can suddenly spring up and cover your shoe without warning.
The full name of the common is Hungerford Common Port Down. The latter part of the name coming from the French (porte) which means door or gate (i.e the gated down).

My researches indicate the first mention of Hungerford Common was in about 1513 when a survey noted that there was a common of some fifty acres next to the town.

A later survey (1543) noted that the common had now grown to some sixty acres and trees had been grown to supply timber to the town. Within thirty years the common had acquired other adjacent lands and was of some one hundred and forty acres.

It appears that extra acreage was added during the next two hundred years although this was interrupted by the building of the Kennet and Avon Canal in the late eighteenth century. The Great Western Railway also cut through the common during the mid nineteenth century.

One would have thought that the addition of these man made methods of transportation would have scarred the common but today it is exactly the opposite. You hardly know that they are there. The canal is obviously silent and the odd train does little to break the mood of the common. 

Opposite the inn there are a couple of benches. It is very relaxing to sit there with your favourite ale and just share the common with your senses. 

Almost in the middle of your view there appears to be a long bank and ditch which is quite overgrown by trees and shrubs. This is believed to be the remains of the Old and Great Market Road which ran between Newbury and Hungerford.
Another thing you will notice is what appears to be terracing. This is said to date from medieval times and is quite pronounced as are the various gravel and chalk pits which dot the common. Like a large number of areas in neighbouring Wiltshire the common is quite mysterious where you can only just guess about its history.

Above the Downgate looking south towards Inkpen there are traces of a Prehistoric or Roman system of fields (The English Heritage website has more information about this).

If you visit this area of the common you also have good views of the distant downs (again well worth a visit). Exit the common via the Inkpen gate and head in the general direction of the downs (about five miles away) there I promise you that you are in for a treat. 

What does strike one when walking on the common is how quiet it is even on the busiest of days. Apart from the cows and the people walking their dogs and the odd picnicking family not much else really happens. 

Well if I told you that the most famous general of World War Two had visited the common during the conflict and that a local aviator requested that a small airport be built on the common in the 1920s then you might think me quite mad.

You would be on the point of locking me up if I further informed you that once there was five hole golf course on the common and that bare-knuckle fights has also taken place within its boundaries during the nineteenth century.

But this all true and the Downgate ale would have been very popular with the crowds that attended the first bare-knuckle fight in 1821 if the inn had existed then.

Records show that The Downgate began life in the early 1840s and had previously been known as The Royal Exchange and The Spotted Cow before adopting its present name in the 1980s. 

The fight which took place on the 11th of December 1821 was between a Tom Hickman and a Bill Neat and attracted an incredible twenty-two thousand people to the common. It was bloody affair which lasted eighteen rounds before Hickman was punched senseless and the fight was stopped.

The boxing match resembled the early rules of football (namely there were not any rules) with a variety of wrestling, butting and hair pulling being part of the contest.

Contemporary reports say that some £200,000 was wagered on the outcome and that carrier pigeons were dispatched to Bristol (where Neat had originated from) to report on his victory.

Another interesting fact was that the writer William Hazlitt (1778-1830) also attended the fight and recorded the event for posterity (you can find this report on the internet). 

Six years later another bare-knuckle fight took place in April 1827. It was originally scheduled to take place in Marlborough but this was stopped by the authorities so was moved to Hungerford Common.

The fight was between a Mr Marten and Mr Gybletts was obviously illegal (as I suppose the 1821 fight was) and was stopped by the arrival of four constables after three rounds (again a good account of the fight can be found on the internet). 

It appears that the common was also used for army manoeuvres in 1872 and saw use in the First World War with some eight thousand men camping there with a further two thousand billeted in the town. 

In August 1944 General Dwight D Eisenhower (1890-1969) visited Hungerford to inspect some eighteen thousand men. This was part of a great build-up of American troops around Hungerford at the time. An extract from the diary of a certain Barney Welton I think illustrates the flavour of the day.

"We arose at 5:30am, August 10th, dressed in pinks and drove to Hungerford Park. There was a parade of 18,000 soldiers of Troop Carrier Command and 101st Airborne Division. General Eisenhower himself presented many with decorations and then made a short speech. He promised us big doings soon here and in the south Pacific and announced the formation of the 1st Airborne Command made up of us in Troop Carrier,  the 101st Airborne Division, 82nd Airborne Division and 6th British Airborne, under the command of General Brereton". 
There is a photograph of General Eisenhower pinning the Distinguished Service Cross onto the uniform of Ist Lieutenant Walter G Amerman for bravery during action in Northern France which I find a little haunting. We all know that Eisenhower went on to become the thirty-forth president of the United States but I wonder what became of Ist Lieutenant Amerman. Did he survive the war and if so is he still alive somewhere in America?

It is said that time changes people but does not change anything else. Well I think that is partially true as Hungerford Common in the background of the photograph looks very much as it did on Sunday when I last visited the area.

In the last few paragraphs I have concentrated on rather violent (or soon to be violent activities) however the common has been used for much more peaceful endeavours.

Did you know that airplanes used to land on the common which gave rise to Mr Cobham’s request for a small airport (it worries me to think what the common would be like today if that scheme had been given the go ahead). Again, there are some excellent photographs on the internet recording these flying machines. 

Hungerford Common also hosted a steam fair in June 1970 which raised funds for the Town Hall and Corn Exchange which were in need of repair. The event was an outstanding success with some twenty thousand people attending which was nearly as many as the number attending the initial bare knuckle fight in 1821.

Attractions ranged from a narrow gauge railway to a free-fall parachute display. I would imagine that there are a great number of people in the town who can still remember this event.

My favourite secret of the common is the five hole golf course which if you are eagle eyed can just be made out today. The facility was built in 1903 and was on the land nearest the railway line (quite what the cows made of it all is not recorded).

The actual golf club existed between 1903 and 1925 and was briefly revived in 1929 before finally closing in 1931.

The golf course is another of the many ghosts of Hungerford Common which a visitor might encounter when visiting. I am lucky as I currently live within ten minutes’ walk of the common and frequently visit it with my wife whether it is to sit down and write or just to take in the silence of the area.

Hungerford Common is different things to different people. One of my favourite activities is to pick up the small pieces of marble that can be found on the rough track that leads to the stone masons just to the right of The Downgate. When I have a spare moment I try to carve them (at present unsuccessfully) into small chess pieces.

You might well find if you look hard enough, references to Hungerford Common in Hungerford Arcade or other shops in the town. Medals have been struck and presented on the common. Books have been written and I would imagine many thousands of photographs have been taken there by casual visitors. 

Anybody passing through Hungerford by train cannot miss the common it almost jumps out at them as they either leave the station or pass under the bridge where the World War Two anti-invasion defences are located.  

Whatever the month it is a sea of green that rolls gently towards you (usually dotted by cows) gently losing itself in the water meadows that hasten the view to the north.

The next time you are in Hungerford do take time out to visit Hungerford Common it is an experience that you will not regret. 

As I have noted previously there are a couple of excellent websites dealing with Hungerford Common one being the Hungerford Virtual Museum website the other being the English Heritage website. Both have lots of information about Hungerford Common and the surrounding areas and like Hungerford and its common, are well worth a visit.  
Stuart Miller-Osborne

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Hungerford Arcade Surprise Celebrity Visitor

When I posted the article on Military Vehicles and Cub Scouts raising money for the British Legion Poppy Appeal, I said that I would reveal the celebrity who joined us.  Well, it was TV celebrity, Chris Tarrant.  Chris came to Hungerford Arcade to do some shopping and when he came out, joined in with the Poppy Appeal.  He chatted to the owners of the vehicles, posed for pictures with them and the Cub Scouts and created a great deal of excitement - he was great fun. Thanks Chris.

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Pocket Anti-Venom Kit

“Treatment of bites from venomous snakes and scorpion stings for all humans and animals.”

Here is an item I came across the other day and I thought that if I don’t take a picture of it, I’m never going to see one again.  It is a small “Do it yourself” anti-venom kit to be carried by people spending time in the outdoors.  I read on an old auction listing that it was marketed towards hunters and fishermen in temperate areas of Europe where snakes are more common. 
Michel Legros, a French pharmacist from Limoges in the Limousin region, invented it around 1890.  The writing on the box and the instructions are all in French, but there are a few words which jump out at me to give a few clues as to it’s age and uses.
It was to be used for the treatment of bites from snakes and also venomous insects, such as scorpions.  I won’t pretend to understand the science behind it, and I think I would hesitate to use it today (although it is probably preferable to perishing from a snake bite) but it seems that it was quite popular and so must have worked to some extent.
It seems that it worked so well, in fact, that it managed to scoop up a number of awards at various science and technology exhibitions around the world.    
It won 10 medals at unnamed exhibitions but most notably it won a silver medal at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris.  This was a major World’s Fair celebrating the achievements of the last century and showcasing new technology.  New inventions that were exhibited there include diesel engines, escalators and talking films.
The kit contains four unused vials of anti-venom, a glass syringe, two hypodermic needles and a small blunt blade intended for breaking open the thin necks of the vials.  All of this is contained within a compact aluminium case.  It is the perfect size for keeping in your pocket and strong enough to ensure the fragile glass vials stay intact.  The front of the case is beautifully decorated with an embossed snake and the words Trousse Michel Legros Limoges.

All literature provided with the kit is in French, which I can’t read very well, but using a simple online translator, I have managed to get the gist of most of the instructions.

The back of the box reads: “10 Medals at exhibitions.  Silver medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1900.  Treatment is extremely simple.  It is sufficient to inject one ampoule of solution into a point near the position of a bite. See instructions inside.”

The first lines in the pamphlet provided with the kit say “The Michel Legros Antivenom Solution decomposes venom in the blood immediately. It is stable and will keep indefinitely if stored correctly. It is harmless at doses that are indicated. This is the easy remedy for effective treatment as evidenced by the thousands of healings obtained from its utilisation and the list grows every day…. It is therefore, as prudence suggests, useful to have with you when traversing the fields.”

At the end of the pamphlet there is a picture of the kit as a whole and the words “Latet anguis in herba” which translates from Latin as “Snake in the Grass”.  A lovely final touch to a really curious and beautiful object and a genuine piece of scientific history.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Hungerford Arcade Military Vehicles and Cub Scouts

This morning started off cloudy, windy and raining, but we need not have worried.  All the military vehicles started to arrive at Hungerford Arcade at around 8.30 a.m.  It was a marvellous sight watching the convoy heading down the High Street towards the Arcade.  It was a military operation getting them all parked but they made it look so easy.  Last to arrive was the much waited for 1944 Morris C8 Field Artillary Tractor (named Batheba) pulling the Limber (which acts as the brakes for the gun carriage) and the gun carriage itself with a 25lb gun which has a firing range of 7 miles.  The combined weight without the Morris C8 is one and a half tons!  Next, a field kitchen was set up and sausages and bacon were frying in pans over petrol burners.  Everyone was ready for breakfast.

Next to arrive were the Hungerford Cubs with their leader, Steve Taylor.  By this time the rain had stopped and it brightened up. The Cubs, Joel Tankrid-Nesbitt, Billy Smeeton, Luke Morecroft, Bodie McMath, James Badem and Jonathan Kelly were fascinated by all the vehicles and enjoyed being part of this special day. They did us all proud and raised lots of money for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

A big, big thank you to Gary and June Crook for getting all the military vehicles together for another year of fundraising for the Poppy Appeal and a huge thank you to all the owners of these wonderful vehicles for all the money you raised today for the Royal British Legion.

A big, big thank you too to Cubs Leader Steve Taylor and his fantastic Cubs for the huge amount of money you raised today for the Poppy Appeal.  You were all amazing.

Read my next Blog and find out what celebrity came to Hungerford Arcade and joined in the Poppy Appeal.


Leader Steve Taylor with his wonderful Cubs

Princess Rose

Front Row left; Andy & Jo Butler, John Butcher, Theresa Soley
2nd Row: Andy Dawson, Jim Perry, Chris Freeman, Danni Sian, June & Gary Crook, Rita, George Ralph
Back Row: Barry Baxter & Edward Seymour (Morris C8 & Gun), Les Taylor,  Alex Rogers

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