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The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 16, March 2003


Fernhurst Society Membership Survey – feedback time

In January we sent out a questionnaire with the Newsletter asking for your views on what the Fernhurst Society does and what you would like it to do in the future. About a third of the membership responded for which we say a big THANK YOU for your feedback and ideas. The winners of the book token were Mr and Mrs Carver.

The headlines of your responses are:

  • Talks: most liked having 4 to 6 evening talks a year; some expressed a preference for the talks being on a regular date and possibly daytime. As a result, in 2004, we are going to book an afternoon talk and try to book a regular third Thursday of the month for the evening sessions. We also asked you about which talk subjects you wanted and local subjects are by far the most popular, on which we will continue to focus. Further specific ideas are always welcome.
  • The Newsletter was well regarded and suggestions for topics will be included
  • Exhibitions: you suggested a good range of ideas which we will use as the basis for 2004 onwards (this year’s Exhibition subject is already set - see later)
  • Walks: we are incorporating your ideas into this year’s programme – see back page
  • Publications: some members expressed interest, so we are creating an Editorial team for the series of publications.
  • Website: those who have tried it were very complementary (thanks to the expertise and efforts of Richard Ranft). If you have an opportunity, please have a go at The website is proving to be a useful contact point for enquiries, especially for the Archives team and recruiting new members
  • The embryonic Junior Fernhurst Society is now armed with some great ideas for activities and generous offers for help. One person unfortunately did not give their name, entering instead “former venture scout leader”. Could they please contact Sue Gibbon via the website.
  • Finally, the Community Orchard project was supported in various ways and a launch meeting is being scheduled for early April. If anyone else would like to come along, please contact Julia Roxan via the Society's email.
  • If you didn’t fill in the questionnaire and want to be involved in any of the activities listed or elsewhere in the Newsletter above please contact Julia Roxan.


South Downs National Park

The Countryside Agency made a South Downs Designation Order on 18th December last year, which was placed on deposit for public inspection from 27th January to 28th February 2003. Margaret Beckett, the Secretary for the Environment, is now considering this and may call a public inquiry to hear objections before deciding whether to confirm the Designation Order. If she agrees the South Downs National Park Authority will then be established by Defra under the Environment Act of 1995.
The purposes of a National Park Authority are to:

o Conserve and enhance the parks’ natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage,
o Promote opportunities for public understanding and enjoyment of the park’s special qualities.

Greater weight is given to the first purpose if there is conflict between the two. It also has a duty to seek to encourage the economic and social well being of the park’s communities.

The position of our local authorities is general opposition, although from different stances. Chichester District Council objects to the principle, the boundary and to the administrative arrangements, including loss of planning powers and likely loss of democratic representation within the area. Specifically CDC is objecting to the area north of the chalk ridge (i.e. Wealden Greensand and Low Weald) being including in the National Park, believing it should remain an AONB.

West Sussex County Council has stated that it could support a National Park for the South Downs, provided its structure and management is tailored to the needs of the Sussex Downs and its communities. WSCC is calling for a public inquiry to create a forum for debate about these needs. It is planning to spend £200,000 of rate payers’ money in its opposition to the Park.

In the meantime, despite the possibility of a public inquiry, local planning authorities have to start taking into account the Designation Order in their planning decisions as a “material consideration” in addition to their normal planning policies encompassed by their Local Structure Plans and the strictures of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). However it is unlikely that the “national park purposes” will carry much weight in any planning decisions at this early stage in the designation process.

If you are interested in this issue there is a public forum entitled “What a South Downs National Park Means To You” being held on Friday 2nd May at Rydon Community College, Storrington at 7pm. The meeting is being hosted by the Wiggonholt Association and the panel of speakers is:

o Martin Beaton of the South Downs Conservation Board
o Kath Worvell of the Council for the Protection for Rural England
o Jane Cecil of the Countryside Agency
o Harold Hall of West Sussex County Council

Gary Shipton of the County Times chairs the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is not about whether the National Park will happen, but about the consequences on the ground. It is intended to be a factual discussion and not a political debate.

Fernhurst Society members are welcome.


Fernhurst Village Archive

It’s been and active and interesting month for the Archive team, though sadly we are having to say goodbye to one of the founders, Charlotte Willson-Pepper, who is shortly moving away from the district. Her archivist skills and enthusiasm will be much missed.

Highlights of the month include a presentation of the model of the German Dornier aircraft that crashed on Fernhurst in 1943. Ultimately it will be displayed with photographs and an account of the event. We have had many generous donations including two books, photos of the Land Girls’ Hostel and useful information and maps of Marley Common.

The team is very glad to have on board Brenda Newman, who, having typed up the 1837 perambulation (no mean feat) is now helping sort out our mountain of press cuttings.

Fernhurst Archives have also helped the museums in Guildford and Haslemere with enquiries.

An exciting true local story, which took place in the 17th century, is being dramatized for the Fernhurst Lunch Club anniversary party in September.

If you have any books, photos, documentation or other memorabilia you would like to donate or loan the Archive please contact Christine Maynard via the website.

Specifically we are looking for:
- old 8mm films of village life for an evening talk of reminiscences;
- photos and any other memorabilia of past cubs and scouts for an archive session being organised for the local cub pack in June;
- pictures from old Revels May Days for inclusion in a display in this year’s Revels on Saturday 7th June.

Reminder: visitors are always welcome to the Archive, situated in the Village Hall. The opening hours have changed to Tuesday afternoons or by arrangement (contact Christine via the Society's email).


Fernhurst Biodiversity Projects

Spring is now showing its face and activities are warming up again for the Biodiversity group. The verges group is about to re-start its surveys, armed with cameras to capture pictures of our local wild plants in preparation for the Exhibition this autumn (see next article).

A botanist who undertook a survey of plants up along the Lodd Valley in 1990 has contacted us. He has kindly offered to share his records with us (600 pages of handwritten notes!) and we are hoping there may be an interesting project to try to re-locate some of the rarer species he identified.

The British Ornithological Society has contacted us regarding a survey of house sparrow nesting sites. As you probably know the numbers of house sparrows is in believed to be in serious decline. If you would like to participate in this important survey please contact Arnold Madgwick via the Society's email.

Following the last Biodiversity Newsletter there has been some expression of interest in local mammals with reports of badgers and hedgehogs (the babies are just appearing). Similarly we have also received a call about frogspawn in mid February – rather early in the year and one wonders if they will survive.

If anyone wishes to report mammal or amphibian sightings please contact Arnold. Finally a Butterfly group has been formed – if anyone would like to join this, please contact Arnold.


Fernhurst Society Exhibition

This autumn we are holding a Fernhurst Society Exhibition in the Village Hall over the weekend of the 25th and 26th October. The exhibition will stay open for the Monday morning to offer the opportunity to the school children to visit with their teachers.

There are two strands to this year’s exhibition. In the main hall we will be displaying the results of the various biodiversity projects to date. This will include the projects on birds, bats, owls, verges, weather patterns since the 1950’s and the land use survey on the computer. We will also be sharing some of the archaeological findings for the historic landscape survey.

There will be a local photographic competition for which we will be giving you details soon. Mr. Mott at the Fernhurst Pharmacy has kindly offered to sell films and process them at a discount for participants.

In parallel we would like to offer local artists and crafts people (amateur, hobbyists or professional) an opportunity to exhibit (and sell, if they wish) their work to the local community. We suspect there is a lot of hidden talent in the village – so dig out your crochet hooks, tapestry frames, knitting needles, lace bobbins, spinning wheels, pottery wheels, wood lathes, paint brushes…. and come and join in. There will be a small charge for exhibitors to contribute to our hall overheads, but otherwise no commissions or other fees.

If you are interested please contact Julia Roxan as soon as possible.


Beating the Bounds

During the 19th century the parish leaders undertook a number of perambulations, walking the parish boundary to check that land that belonged to the parish was clearly marked and to establish the tithe arrangements. This was in the context of the 1836 Tithe Act, which changed the collection of tithes (literally one-tenth of income from produce) into payments associated with current produce prices. The parish leaders did not have local maps so wrote up the boundaries as an account of the perambulation with graphic commentaries, checking boundary stones and recording the route using field and house names.

We have obtained a copy of the 1837 perambulation from the Sussex Record Office in Chichester and will use this as a model for a 21st century perambulation, starting this year. We are planning to walk the current parish boundary (post the alterations due in April) making a similar commentary, but at the same time, where possible, locating the ancient boundary stones and old parish boundary from 1837.

We have split the parish boundary into stretches that are “walkable” in a half or full day. A team is reconnoitring the routes for us and will then guide those interested along the boundary. The guides will talk about the old boundaries from the text we have and will also record our 21st century perambulation.

The first perambulation will be along the boundary stretching from Highbuilding on Vann Road going north over Marley, and up towards Camelsdale. This will be on April 21st, Easter Monday, starting 10.30am for about 4-5 hours (there is an exit point for those who only want to walk for a couple of hours). Please wear walking boots or similar and tough clothes as some of the route is off public footpaths (with landowners’ permission). In places this stretch is steep and a bit of scrambling may be required. Bring a picnic lunch if you are doing the full walk. We meet at Crossfields car park at 10.30 am. Dogs must be on leads and children should be over 10 years old. Transport will be arranged to shuttle people back to the start point. Non-members are very welcome too. For more information about this walk please contact Julia Roxan or the walks in general contact Iain Brown via the Society's email.


Fernhurst Community Orchard

In the Fernhurst Society Survey a number of members expressed active support for this project, their offers ranging from sponsorship of trees through to helping clear the land and plant the orchard. An initial meeting of the active supporters will be held in early April.

If you are interested in becoming involved please contact Julia Roxan.

North Park Blast Furnace

Robin and Carla Barnes are pushing ahead with plans to understand further and to preserve the history of the North Park Blast Furnace at Furnace Ponds. Following a meeting at the beginning of February with most interested parties a basic strategy was formulated. In the meantime the officers of the Northern Area of the South Downs Conservation Board have helped carry out a considerable amount of vegetation clearance around both spillways on their "Team Building" days.

Robin is now looking into putting up a display board at the site. A Fernhurst Society walk is planned for August for those who want to see the progress being made – see Diary.

The question of the 'shanty town' in the area north of the Blast Furnace towards North Park Farm has been asked on many occasions. Robin now has an estimate for doing some exploratory trenches as no normal geo-physical apparatus will work with so much slag present (slag contains a certain quantity of iron). If it is possible to find funding for these exploratory trenches then work will take place in May for about 5 days. Robin is hopeful that this will happen, so if you are interested in seeing what is going on please contact him via the Society. If we have a good number of local people showing interest it will assist with applying for a large Lottery bid, which is the next stage.

Dates for your 2003 Diaries

All these events (except visit to Tilford Rural Life Museum where normal entry fees apply) are free to Fernhurst Society members. Non-members are also very welcome, so please bring guests and tell your friends.

Thursday 3rd April 2003, 7.30pm for 8pm at the Village Hall, Evening Talk: “Endurance to the Antarctic” by Norman Hodgson
This talk promises to be a fascinating insight into experiences in a very foreign environment by one of our local residents.

Easter Monday 21st April - Beating the Bounds – see above for details

Sunday 11th May - Village Walk looking at local Historic Houses.
A gentle stroll around the village centre guided by local historian and house expert Helen Ouin.
Meet at 2.30pm outside the Post Office. 2 hours.

Sunday 15th June - Butterfly Walk at Henley.
Led by Arnold Madgwick, a chance to enjoy and identify flutter-bys. Meet at 2pm at the John Nicholson Car Park. Stout shoes or boots required. Allow 2 - 3 hours

Sunday 10th August - North Park Blast Furnace.
A guided walk by Robin and Carla Barnes covering the industrial history. Meet at 2pm at Lower Lodge Farm (there is plenty of parking space). Wear stout shoes or walking boots. On footpaths. Allow 2 – 3 hours.

Saturday 13th September. Guided visit to Tilford Rural Life Museum. Details to be confirmed later in the year.
Monday 6th October 2003 7.30pm for 8pm at the Village Hall, Evening talk. Speaker to be confirmed

Weekend of 25th / 26th October 2003. Biodiversity and Arts and Crafts Exhibition in the Village Hall.

Monday November 17th 2003, 7.30pm for 8pm at the Village Hall, Evening Talk. Speaker to be confirmed


A reflection on weather forecasting!

It was autumn, and the Indians on the remote reservation asked their new Chief if the winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was an Indian Chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets.

When he looked at the sky, he couldn't tell what the weather was going to be. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he replied to his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared.

Also, being a practical leader, after several days he had an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"

"It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed," the meteorologist at the weather service responded. So the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood to be prepared.

A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. "Is it going to be a very cold winter?"

"Yes," the man at National Weather Service again replied, "it's definitely going to be a very cold winter."

The Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of wood they could find.

Two weeks later, he called the National Weather Service again. "Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?"

"Absolutely," the man replied. "It's going to be one of the coldest winters ever."

"How can you be so sure?" the Chief asked.

The weatherman replied, "The Indians are collecting wood like crazy."