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The Fernhurst Society

Memories of Fernhurst: the village choir

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A village must sing! A Fernhurst choir was started in 1924 by the Women’s Institute under the leadership of Miss Bristow and has had various places of residence for the weekly practice. The choir met at one time at the vicarage and the members of that period tell that there was always a welcoming fire and a lovely, cosy feeling on entering the vicarage drawing room. As the vicar’s wife welcomed the choir, she gave strict instructions that the fire had to be kept burning brightly. It is a mind picture that is still a pleasant and vivid memory by those who belonged to the choir at that time.

Miss Caulfield of Haslemere was the leader of the choir after Miss Bristow, a position she held for many years. We are told that the first time the choir entered at the Petersfield Festival they were late arriving at the hall and had immediately to take the platform for the sight reading test. But they won the trophy, much to their surprise and joy. Mrs Watson is mentioned with warmth by members at this period, her help was much appreciated. Alas Miss Caulfield went abroad and for a time the choir was closed down. Miss Caulfield was greatly missed but still remembers the choir, Mrs Gale receiving Christmas messages at this time.

At one period the choir sang carols at Christmas and was invited to sing at various houses in Fernhurst. These meetings are spoken of with warmth by those who took part. In 1953 Mrs Saunders became the conductor and the choir is now a mixed choir of voices. The practices are held in the Village Hall and it is an inspiration to meet there week by week. The music is chosen by the Committee of the Petersfield Festival, which is of the highest grade and, to be honest, sometimes rather difficult. But the members, nothing daunted, master it, under the able leadership of Mrs Saunders, whose patience never dies.

In 1956 the choir brought back a banner from Petersfield, which was a treasure for a year. The choir is self-supporting and has been for many years with the able personality of Mrs Gale in the role of Secretary and Treasurer. Now a small committee has been elected, on which Mrs Saunders serves. It is really the joy of singing which attracts members from all walks of life to the weekly practice and the anticipation of Petersfield. After the festival the choir give a concert in the Village Hall, singing the festival pieces and items in a lighter vein, with generally an invited soloist to help with the serious part of the concert. The village rallies round and thoroughly enjoys and appreciates the music and the tasty and inviting supper, which the choir members so willingly provide.

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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.