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The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 35, September 2010


Programme Autumn 2010

Saturday/Sunday 16th /17th October:
Saturday 10am to 4pm
Sunday 11am to 4pm
Fernhurst Village Hall
Fernhurst Archive Exhibition on ICI
Exhibition in the Village Hall entitled ‘The Community and the Company’
Thursday 25th November
Fernhurst Village Hall.
7.30pm for 8pm start
AGM and Talk/Film Show
There will be a short Society AGM, followed by a talk and film show on ‘The History of Shulbrede Priory’ given by Laura Ponsonby and Ian Russell


The Community and the Company Exhibition

A major exhibition is being organised by the Fernhurst Archive about life in Fernhurst before, during and after Plant Protection/ICI/Zeneca/Syngenta in the Village Hall, 16-17 October.

This exhibition, which covers the years 1945 – 2000, will be of interest to all Fernhurst residents, past and present, as well as ex-company employees.

The Archive is very grateful for the many photos, documents and other memorabilia that have been donated for the exhibition. However if anyone has any more items from that interesting period in the history of our village that you would be able to donate/loan for the exhibition, please contact Christine Maynard, Brenda Newman, Iain Brown or Roy Woodward via the Society's email.


Fernhurst Oral History Group

The group aims to capture for posterity the memories of those who have lived in Fernhurst over the last 100 years. Early interviews provided much of the material for the acclaimed 'Voices of Fernhurst' book. However, many interesting people have yet to be interviewed and we are looking for additional interviewers. If you enjoy meeting people and are a good listener, why don't you join our group? Contact Ralph Carver via the Society's email.


Archive Report September 2010

The juggernaut that is the October Exhibition has already started rolling with the completion of the first few panels of display boards. The team have been thrilled with the response from ex-employees and villagers alike with many contributions of photos and memorabilia. The Exhibition Committee – Christine Maynard, Iain Brown, Brenda Newman and Roy Woodward – are working hard to present the material in the most interesting way and entertaining way. The idea of a children’s quiz and colouring competition is also being considered.

Meanwhile, other enquiries are being worked on. We liaised closely with Pauline Colcutt selecting photos for the 2011 calendar, the theme of which is old trades and occupations. Two of the staff and then the owner, David Butcher, of The King’s Arms came in looking for about fifty photos of the pub and the village in general to complete the new décor of the pub. David Butcher not only bought a copy of ‘Voices of Fernhurst’ and a Millennium Map, but has also promised a £100 donation.

Email enquiries over recent weeks include an author looking for material for a book on Elizabeth von Arnim, a couple seeking family history and the present owners of Hawksfold Stables came in for information on the murder that took place there.

David Coward has nearly completed his contribution to the countywide tithe map project. If his method of working is approved by WSRO, we may well follow it, when the exhibition is over and all the loaned items returned.

Christine Maynard
Fernhurst Archive
September 2010


Review of Recent Activities

The Wild Daffodil Walk - 28th March

Over twenty assorted adults, children and dogs set off from the old post office in Wardley Green in search of wild daffodils up Lamborne Lane. Against all dire forecasts the weather was perfect for a walk: sunny, a little bit cloudy and dry.

On the way Iain Brown stopped at an unusual conifer plantation and showed us a fir tree which he tentatively identified as Abies delavayi of Chinese origin which is normally seen in parkland. We wondered who had planted it. Further on Robin Barnes told us of the ponds in the area which were created to provide the power to drive the iron furnaces in the 16th and 17th centuries. All this area was then a hive of industry, very noisy and populated. We came to the wild daffodils and there they were in all their glory beneath the trees – not quite out yet – in a week’s time they should be at their peak. Even so it was a lovely sight.

Further on we stopped beneath the most magnificent branched oak tree on Titty Hill (see photo opposite, taken by Judith Turner). tree on Titty Hill
Obviously it had been pollarded at some time but it must be at least 350 years old. We turned right down the Queen’s Corner Lane and a little further on right through farmland. All the way back we had magnificent views North towards Hollycombe. We deviated a little to look at the Roman fort on the road from Iping to Milland. It is not obvious, but if you know where it is and climb up on the bank the outlines of the old fort are quite clear. It was an important staging post on the Chichester to Silchester road.

We finally arrived back at the old post office in Wardley Green to well-deserved cups of tea and ginger cake dispensed out of the boot of the car. We were watched by some ‘strange’ sheep in the neighbouring field. Two young lads cycling in the area identified them for us as Castlemilk from Shetland and Portland – two rare breeds. Everyone agreed it was a very enjoyable walk.

Aphra Peard

Walk Around The Mens Nature Reserve - 13th June

On Sunday June 13th a group of about 15 of us, plus four well-behaved dogs, enjoyed a few hours' gentle walk through The Mens – an area of ancient semi-natural woodland, managed as a nature reserve by the Sussex Wildlife Trust. Our walk was led by Mark Monk-Terry of the SWT, whose intimate knowledge of the history and natural history of the place made our afternoon all the more enjoyable.

The name suggests that the land was held in common in Anglo-Saxon times and has for the most part been managed as common/shared woodland for all its known history. Under the stewardship of the SWT, the reserve is now managed under a policy of minimum intervention. This means that no timber or coppice is removed, allowing a reversion to “wild wood” and, as a result, affording significant opportunities for research into the way natural systems evolve and adjust to changes such as the 1987 storm.

The site is predominantly on heavy weald clay (familiar to many in Fernhurst!) supporting mainly oak and ash with hazel and holly beneath, there is also an area containing some beautiful beech trees – which might well have provided commoners with beech mast for their pigs in the past. Of particular interest is an area known as “Badlands Meadows”, probably named for its relatively low utility in the past. These meadows, with dense hedges and narrow strips of woodland “rews”, have never been under the plough and thus are immensely rich in plant and insect species including the green-flowered lady's mantle and dyer's greenweed, once used to dye wool. It is perhaps ironic that a piece of land of relatively low value to past generations has become so precious to us now.

Our thanks to Mark for leading the walk - it is reassuring to know that this site, of international importance in terms of nature conservation, is in safe hands.

John Buchanan


Snippet from the Past


‘I always wear loose Turkish trousers, a Zouave jacket and a broad sash round my waist, as I do not consider skirts are either suitable or safe for cycling’, said Alys Russell. In 1897, this costume caused something of a furore in Fernhurst.

Alys was the wife of Bertrand Russell, later 3rd Earl Russell, who was to become one of the greatest philosophers and pacifists of his generation. He was a young man of 22 in 1894 when he married Alys Pearsall Smith, who was five years older. After a protracted honeymoon travelling in Europe, they lived in a cottage on her family’s estate at Fridays Hill before buying at The Millhanger, just off the Lickfold Road, in 1897.

A friend, who visited the Russells at Millhanger, described it as ‘a workman’s cottage with stuffy attic bedrooms, but with the inevitable decent size sitting room added on to it by the Russells. The couple live idyllic lives, devotedly attached to each other, living in somewhat disorderly and extravagant simplicity … Russell working some six or seven hours at his metaphysical book’.

Sadly, the idyll was not to last. Just four years after the marriage Bertie realised that he was no longer in love with Alys, and told her so. It was a devastating blow for her, from which she never fully recovered. Although they remained under the same roof, they spent less and less time at The Millhanger and finally divorced in 1921.


Fernhurst Junior Society

16th October - Chestnut Walk - some of our older members have an activity booked on this day, so we plan to make this a New Members Walk - and make it slightly shorter - with a fire at the Scout Hut to cook Sweet Chestnuts collected on route.

20th November - Ebernoe Common

18th December - 1-hour walk locally - hopefully finishing with mulled wine and mince pies at the Fernhurst Centre, if they are on offer!!