Beautiful Bookstores

A Homage to Hungerford Bookshop

Hungerford Bookshop
© Hungerford Bookshop

I first visited Hungerford Bookshop many moons ago. An old friend of mine used to live on the outskirts of Hungerford, in a cottage surrounded by woodland and trees, and it was a place I used to visit often, and one I still try to when I’m back on home soil. A small market town nestled in the heart of the North Wessex Downs, Hungerford is one of my favourite places in England; its high-street is freckled with antiques arcades-aplenty, within whose four walls I can spend endless hours perusing the shelves of paintings and jewellery and hardback books whose spines are worn and pages dog-eared. The rest of its retail offering is made up of independent boutiques, and the type of country stores you might find in other picturesque market towns; selling Barbours and leather bound A-Zs and scented candles and patterned tea towels. The high street curves down to the canal before reaching Great Grooms of Hungerford; an antique showroom housed within a prestigious Queen Anne town house on three floors; and a building so beautiful I like to pretend I’ll live there when I’m older.

But the gem of this town is undoubtedly Hungerford Bookshop. The quaintest of stores, Hungerford Bookshop is located on the high-street and boasts an inviting window display that draws even the most infrequent of readers inside with its promise of stories unread and tales to be told.

Inside you’ll find a haven of books – both new and second hand – shelved along side other bookish gifts such as literature themed candles from Literati and Lite, and a good selection of stationary. It’s the type of shop that is simply impossible to leave empty handed – however frugal or lacking in shelf space you may be. From a stack of second hand paper backs retailing at just a couple of pounds, to hard back tomes that are beautifully bound and would make the prettiest of presents, there’s something for everyone.

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Hungerford Bookshop
© Hungerford Bookshop

I’ve visited twice this year while on home visits to nearby Midgham Marsh; the first (despite the fact that I was flying back to LA the following day with hand luggage alone and already seven packed books), I bought Susan Hill’s brilliant memoir Jacob’s Room is Full of Books: A Year of Reading, and How to Be a Travel Writer by Don George; the second, a signed copy of Operation Wansdyke; a gift for my dad.

Joint owned by Emma – whose favourite part of bookselling is the swapping of book recommendations, coffee in hand, during ‘Book for All Seasons’ consultations –  and Alex, a bookseller of twenty-two years who reads mostly fiction, rotating between crime, contemporary, historical and sci-fi and often has a packet of cookies stashed behind the counter to keep his blood sugar levels up, they’ve together done a rather brilliant job of creating the shop’s cosy atmosphere and a welcoming space for book-lovers.

A literary treasure trove in the heart of Hungerford, Hungerford Bookshop is the best kind of local shop; warm and welcoming with friendly staff on hand to give personal recommendations, author signings and a literary festival to boot, you’ll no doubt leave with a well-chosen book, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done your bit in supporting not only the local community, but also a rather brilliant bookshop.

Find out more about Hungerford Bookshop here.

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