Close by were the old Norman Church, Parsonage Farm and Church Lane running westwards to the Kings Highway - more or less as we know it today as the Bath Road or A4.
This route looks as if it arrived from Kintbury via the Everlong across Port Down east of the town dropping down to the High Street and then into Church Lane through The Croft passing St Lawrence’s Church across Freeman’s Marsh to the ford and up the track through the Bath Road Gate to the King’s Highway.
Since the railway was extended westwards in 1862, The Croft was separated from the south of the Town, with access only through two bridges from Croft Road and Dog Lane. There was a name change some 50 years ago to Parsonage Lane as it was thought more in keeping with in-coming residents.
The Croft comprises of 1.243 acres and was acquired in circa 1550 as a gift from John Undewes and his wife to be paid for each year by a Red Rose if requested.
It was given to the townsfolk “to hold fairs and to sport therein”. In recent times there has been much muddled thinking in respect of the purpose of The Croft being for children to play but it was not the case and use was to be made by all the inhabitants for social and sporting events.
The Croft was included in the Feoffment of 1617 and it has ever since been included in the estate of the Town & Manor of Hungerford who have had to meet the expense of its up keep with little or no annual income.
Like the Common Port Down and Freeman’s Marsh, it was necessary to apply for the registration of The Croft under the Commons Act 1965. At the same time the registration was confirmed on Tutti Day 1981. This was carried out to preserve the Village Green in perpetuity as a historically important piece of Hungerford and open space and prevent development and vehicular encroachment.
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However the District Government has seen The Croft to be an ideal place to develop local services. The consequence has been access by more and more traffic that has to be accommodated to the overall detriment of the area.
History records that The Croft has been planted up with substantial trees on several occasions over many centuries. Often the mature trees were felled and sold to meet unexpected bills received by the old Feoffees. Even so replanting was considered important and after a crop of big elms was cut down and sold early in the 20th century they were soon replaced by the present sweet chestnut trees in the winter of 1913 by then Constable of the day John Adnams.