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Black magic fears after an effigy is found on Snelsmore Common in the summer of '68

Tennis star opens new St Bart's courts in 1996, while a Newtown sow is in the limelight 150 years ago

Sarah Bosley


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Tennis star Jeremy Bates opens the new tennis courts at St Bartholomew’s School (Wormestall site) in 1996, with the then mayor of Newbury, Garry Poulson

Tennis star Jeremy Bates opens the new tennis courts at St Bartholomew’s School (Wormestall site) in 1996, with the then mayor of Newbury, Garry Poulson

Tennis star Jeremy Bates opened the new tennis courts at St Bartholomew’s School (Wormestall site) in 1996, with the then mayor of Newbury, Garry Poulson.
Bates, who was knocked out in the first round at Wimbledon that year, enjoyed a successful 15-year career.
He was ranked as UK No 1 in 1987 and again from 1989 to 1994, and won the mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon in 1987 and the Australian Open in 1991, with Jo Durie.

150 years ago - July 23, 1868

Mr Stroud, landlord of the Swan Inn, Newtown, is the fortunate owner of a sow which has exhibited a remarkable degree of fecundity for a succession of years.
The statistics of the achievements of this interesting animal are as follows: in 1864 she had two litters of 8 and 10 pigs; in 1867, one of 14; and during the present year she has produced two litters, one on the 12th of January of 13, and another on the 15th of this month of 18; making a grand total since 1864 of 107 specimens (sic) of the porcine tribe.
The creature may surely be regarded as an eminent benefactor to the working classes in providing them with such a supply of embryo bacon!

125 years ago - July 27, 1893

The annual Hermitage School Fete was held on Friday July 21st, and was favoured by very pleasant weather.
The children, numbering somewhat over a hundred, accompanied by their teachers, assembled on the Vicarage Lawn at three o’clock, where they were welcomed by the Vicar and Mrs Longmore, Miss Longmore and other friends.
Proceedings commenced by the distribution of rewards to those commended by the diocesan inspector in the recent religious knowledge examination.
The mothers of many of the children by this time joined the festive scene, and all were plentifully regaled with tea, cake and bread and butter.
Thus refreshed a stampede was made to the picturesque grounds of Hermitage House, kindly placed at disposal by Captain and Mrs Radford. The sports consisted of cricket, races and other exhilarating exercises too numerous to mention.
Not till the sun began to dawn towards the west was there any symptom of drawing to a close, and before parting hearty cheers were given for all who in their several capacities had rendered such welcome aid and contributed so much to the success of the fete.

75 years ago - July 29, 1943

At yesterday’s police court in Hungerford, Herbert Walter Hunt, “Red Lion” Charnham-street, Hungerford, and William E. Wilcock, Parsons-lane, Hungerford, were each fined 10s for showing a light during black-out hours.
Alastair Forbes, Kintbury, was fined £1 for cycling without lights.

Hungerford Boy Scouts are in need of equipment, and a dance will be held in the Corn Exchange on Monday to raise funds.
A celebrated RAF band will be in attendance, and patrons can be assured of a jolly evening.

50 years ago - July 25, 1968

Are black magic or witchcraft rites being practised on Snelsmore Common – only two miles from the centre of Newbury?
The question is raised by the finding of an effigy and other symbols in the depths of the commmonland.
The effigy – stuffed with straw and dressed in a woman’s blouse and khaki trousers – was found lying on a small heap of stones and staked to the ground in the middle of a fenced-off area about 12 feet square.
Within this are four squares in which young wheat is growing in soil other than that found on the common.
The whole of the area has been cleared of heather and the new fence of chicken wire and stakes is held down by lumps of peat.
Just a few feet outside from a small gate are two clumps of six young fir trees that look as if they have been specially planted.
Mr A Miles, of Rowan Drive, Shaw Estate, first noticed the stakes and wire some time ago when he was walking on the common.
“It gave him quite a turn,” said his wife.
A businessman in the town, who does not wish his name to be disclosed, visited the scene with a reporter.
“The wheat is a sign of fertility,” he said. An acquaintance of his considered that the site is not “bad” black magic, but “good”.
It could possibly signify the waking of the germs of wheat to bring fertility.
An authority on witchcraft, Dennis Wheatley, the author who live in Lymington, Hants, commented after a description of the site had been given to him, “There does not seem to be anything occult about it. Wheat is a sign of fertility. It is certainly very queer.”

10 years ago - July 24, 2008

Another public consultation is to be held over Newbury Racecourse’s £33m development plans, before they are formally submitted to the district council.
At last week’s public exhibition, visitors to the racecourse were asked for their views on alternative traffic proposals to free-up the local road network, assuming plans for 1,480 new homes get the green light.
Developer David Wilson Homes, which is responsible for the project, has said that four traffic routes affecting Boundary Road, York Road, Stanley Road and Queens Road will be proposed as possible solutions to relieving traffic congestion.
Managing director Sarah Hordern has said, however, that a predicted number of vehicles using these routes will not be available until after the planning application has been submitted.
She said that people’s main concerns raised during the exhibition regarding the overall development were related to issues of accessibility.
The planning application is expected to be submitted this autumn, although a date has not yet been disclosed.

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