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The Fernhurst Society

Tales from the Archives - 4

The Mystery of the Sash

In the Archive display cabinet is a wide green sash, lavishly embroidered with heraldic figures and finished with heavy fringing. It bears the legend ‘The Ancient Order of Foresters’. Fernhurst’s AOF was known as Court ‘Pride of the Border’ no 4354. It was one of many friendly societies that flourished in early 1900s to provide support for working people before the National Health came into being.

Members – male and female – could join at the age of 16 for about 6 pence a week, a considerable investment if you were only earning a few shillings a week, but very worthwhile as it offered free medical treatment and medicine, help with dental and optical charges and weekly sick pay. Funerals were attended by Court members wearing their sashes in reverse and special prayers were said.

It was also very much a social organisation as it held monthly meetings in the room above the old Spread Eagle pub (where Tavern Court now stands), organised outings for the juveniles and the eagerly anticipated Foresters’ Club Day. This was held in a field, which is now part of the cemetery. There was a parade, led by a band with the Foresters’ banner, a church service, a fair, sports, and plenty to eat and drink.

By 1968 membership had declined and the Fernhurst Court was merged with that of Haslemere.

If you would like to know more about this story, or research other local topics, the Archive is open on Tuesdays, 2.30-5pm in the Village Hall. Other times by arrangement.

Christine Maynard
Fernhurst Archive

One of a series of short articles bringing you some of the incidents from our rich village history. Collated by Christine Maynard, based on documents preserved at the Fernhurst Archives, these originally were published in the monthly Fernhurst News.

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Fernhurst History