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The Fernhurst Society

Memories of Fernhurst: club days and excursions

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Fernhurst had its club day. Until the 1914-18 war the local branch of the Ancient Order of Foresters used to hold one day in the summer as a club day. Usually it started on the Sunday evening with a church parade of members wearing their scarves, juveniles carrying the banner, and led by the Midhurst and Haslemere Town Bands with collecting boxes for Haslemere Hospital. Then on the Monday a holiday was enjoyed and at about 1.30pm they would all sit down to a dinner, usually at the Spread Eagle Inn, [in the upstairs of] which was the club room of the AOF. Afterwards there was a fair. Roundabouts pulled by horses, swings, coconut shies and stalls of every description, which kept going until well into the night. One wonders what was for sale and the prices. What a jolly time to remember and how perfect it would be to have had a picture and recording of the voices and laughter during the evening. A pre-war country fair lit by gas flares and oil and candle lamps.

A memorable day each year was the children’s outing to the sea. What a thrill to meet the waiting farm wagons at the Cross, and what fund climbing in, the elders helping the smaller ones over the edge of the wagon. Then the glorious trek to Haslemere station, then more excitement, a train ride to the seaside. We do hope that the weather was kind. It must have been a really long day for the lanterns were lit by candle on the wagons that met them at the station.

Very well remembered is the effort to give a party of elderly people a trip to the seaside, many of whom and their hole folk had never been out of Fernhurst. They were taken to Hayling Island and entertained quite royally. One old man was very doubtful about it all and earnestly requested ‘to be taken back to England, he didn’t like foreign parts’. But it is handed down that it certainly was a red letter day for the party, which took place before 1914.

An excursion to London in September 1908 was suggested for the girls who helped in the church choir and any members of the Girls’ Clubs who would care to pay for themselves and join the outing. The party walked to the station at Haslemere for the 11am excursion train. When in London they visited the Franco-British Exhibition among other sights. The cost was 3/6d to 4/- for the day. The excursion was also open to any new member who wished to join the clubs when the meetings began in October. This was good propaganda and new members were added in October.

In 1928 the Working Men’s Club had one of its brightest and happiest gatherings in the Village Hall. Between 200 and 300 members and guests were present. Major-General Sir John Daniel, President of the Club, welcomed the guests in a bright and happy speech and outlined the programme for the evening’s entertainment. This consisted of a concert followed by dancing and whist. The Misses Dudman took the audience by storm with a Scottish reel and sword dance. Other items included violin solos, bag-pipes, rollicking stories and duets. Refreshments were served by club members and their wives. Mr Cole the Secretary was commended on his excellent organisation. Many Fernhurst residents still remember this party as an outstanding one.

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The Fernhurst Oral History Project was supported by the Local Heritage Initiative. The Local Heritage Initiative was developed by the Countryside Agency and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nationwide Building Society.