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The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 17, October 2003


Exhibition time for the Fernhurst Society - 25th / 26th October

This summer has been not only been hard work keeping our gardens alive thorough the drought, but also a period for the Biodiversity teams to gird their loins for a major exhibition of their work. We are at the end of our 4-year Local Heritage Initiative grant of about £6,000. The village hall is booked for the whole weekend and we are now all beavering away (forgive the pun!) to create an interesting and fun Fernhurst Wildlife Exhibition. Please do come along and see the fascinating displays. There is something for everyone, including quizzes (with prizes) for the children, and refreshments and a place to sit for those of greater years. Displays are:

  • A 3D model of the parish, illustrating the landscape as it is now
  • The computerised land use survey. See how much of our parish is woodland for example.
  • A display of what the verges and hedgerows teams have found, and a chance to see, in the flesh, the variety of local ferns, grasses and mosses, including our own Hard Fern
  • An insight into the Fernhurst “micro-climate” from recent observations and Syngenta’s long-term records. After this long hot summer are we suffering from global warming?
  • The bat boxes are all up around the parish – find out which species are zooming around, how we identify them and where they are roosting
  • The hugely popular Garden Birdwatch, exploring some of the fascinating insights which Arnold Madgwick has, in his delightful way, shared with us lesser mortals
  • Displays on other species such as butterflies, amphibians and mammals
  • Barn owl project – again boxes have gone up and there will be a fascinating computer CD on owls for you to find out more about these magnificent, but threatened, birds
  • Archives and Historic landscapes – see how the landscape gives us clues to how local ancestors used the land and learn about the history of the people and houses in the parish
  • The Photographic Competition “Grass Roots of Fernhurst”. See the entries and find out the winner on Sunday afternoon. As usual the standard is high – we don’t expect less!
  • What next with the Biodiversity project – it does not stop here!

In parallel there is ARTS & CRAFTS EXHIBITION. We invited local people who enjoy arts and crafts as a profession or hobby to exhibit their work in the Village Hall Community Room. It promises to be a glorious show, with work from artists, wood-turners, potters, model makers, embroiderers, knitters, patchwork makers, spinners … it seems there is a wealth of creative talent in our community. Some work will be for sale, so come prepared to be tempted!

Both exhibitions are open from 11am – 5pm on Saturday 25th and 10am – 5pm on Sunday 26th October. Free admission and everyone is welcome.


South Downs National Park

At the end of last year the Countryside Agency made a South Downs Designation Order, which was placed on deposit for public inspection from 27th January to 28th February 2003. There were some 5,735 representations made, of which nearly three quarters were, in principle, in favour of the park, and nearly 90% of the boundary objections were arguing for more land to be included. Only six of the fifteen local authorities affected are objecting but include Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council.

On 10th April 2003 Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for the Environment announced that a public inquiry would be held to hear the objections and representations made to the South Downs National Park Designation Order, and that the inquiry will address the issues about land within the proposed boundary of the National Park and the separate and related issue of the establishment and operation of a South Downs National Park Authority. In addition the Inquiry will also hear the objections to the consequent Revocation Orders for the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

The Inquiry opens on Monday 10 November 2003 in Worthing. The inspector appointed to conduct the inquiry is Mr Robert Parry, BA DipTP MRTPI.

The Inquiry programme is to have two phases:
Phase 1:

  • To consider objections ‘in principle’ to the creation of the National Park.
  • To consider objections to specific parts of the boundary.

Phase 2:

  • To consider the proposed administrative arrangements.
  • To consider the proposed revocation of the AONB’s.

Format of Inquiry: The inquiry will be held in two different ways:

  • Formal Inquiry Session: Where the objector and Countryside Agency will present their case through advocates (barristers).
  • Informal Inquiry Session: For more straightforward objections where objectors represent themselves or are represented by a single agent.

The published timetable indicates that the inquiry will be hearing from the objectors through until the end of July 2004, so it is unlikely that the Park, if given the go ahead, will exist until 2007 at the earliest. Fernhurst Parish Council is making informal representations regarding the split of the parish, which leaves part outside the National Park boundary, whilst Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council are both objecting to the Park on principle.


Fernhurst Village Archive

The summer saw a variety of visitors to the Archive and activity for the team. The Cubs came for a presentation in order to quality for their local knowledge badge, and Camelsdale School enquired about material for display at their centenary next year. There were also visitors enquiring about family history and for maps and information on a local farm for a degree project.
Ralph Lines presented a model of the WW2 Beaufighter to go with that of the Dornier already donated. It is hoped that a display of the two models, along with photos and written information, will be mounted in due course.

Alan Bloomfield donated a map drawn up by the Field Survey Squadron in 1967 and also loaned his copy of the Blackdown House Sale particulars and map, 1941, for photocopying. The Archive has also been given several books, including John Magilton’s book ‘Fernhurst Furnace’. Ted Liddle also donated a sizeable collection of material on Verdley and Highfield.

Finally, Helen Ouin and Christine Maynard visited The Millhanger to meet the owner and were allowed to borrow an interesting file on the history of the house and its notable owner, Bertrand Russell.


Fernhurst Biodiversity Projects

The long hot summer has seen the Biodiversity teams out and about, recording plants in verges and, following a training session from Bruce Middleton of the South Downs Conservation Board, making a start on dating the hedges around the parish by recording the number of species. The verges group had a very successful outing in July, spotting an exotic giant Elecampane with large bright yellow flowers and four species of orchid along Whites Lane.

The Garden Birdwatch group grows in numbers and is now has some 70 watchers, reporting in excess of 40 species each week, creating a wealth of data over the past 4 years. This summer the usual suspects have been spotted across the parish, with good broods of robins and wrens but not so many blue tits this year. Swifts, house martins and swallows have all been seen but not in the numbers we all remember from our childhoods. Nesting boxes are easy to fit if you would like to encourage these lovely migrants. Contact Arnold on 653486 if you need advice.

The bat group has made good progress with siting boxes and surveying local populations. Two members reported a roost of over 140 bats!

Similarly the owl boxes are up and we hope that barn owls will be tempted to take up residence in the next breeding season.

The main activity though for the Biodiversity teams this summer has been working towards the Exhibition (see front page). Please do come along and share our excitement with the wildlife in our parish.


Village History Stroll

On a Sunday afternoon in May some 45 people gathered for a stroll from the Post Office along Church Road to the Village Green in two groups guided by Helen Ouin and Christine Maynard. They were there to enjoy the history of the village and were not disappointed by our two guides, who gave wonderful narratives on the history of the various buildings and tombstones in the cemetery and an insight into the social history of the village.

What was most remarkable was that these 45 people stood in the pouring rain for this event. They did not slink away, but were transfixed by the absorbing stories being told. The history was truly brought alive when several of those there were reminiscing about the buildings such as going to school in the house next to the Recreation Ground and buying milk from the side of a house along Church Road.

We plan to publish a short leaflet capturing the essence of this walk for sale through the Post Office, so that others can enjoy this treat, and avoid the rain! Further history strolls are planned for next year, so keep an eye out for notices.


Tilford Rural Life Centre

In September a group made their way to the Tilford Rural Life Centre, all arriving late as a consequence of the unpredictable Hindhead junction. However the guide patiently waited for us and it turned out to be well worth the sit in traffic. An engrossing tour of the Centre provided a worthwhile background to the exhibits on display. After lunch we all enjoyed strolling at leisure around the Centre in glorious sunshine on a quiet Saturday afternoon. Highly recommended for those who could not make the outing.


Fernhurst Community Orchard

The Orchard Committee is pleased to confirm a site has finally been confirmed with the Parish Council. The location is on the southwest corner of Van Common, near Vann Road. More details will be available at the Biodiversity Exhibition on 25/26th October.

If you are interested in helping to develop and maintain the Orchard, or would like to offer a donation (several trees will need sponsoring), then please contact Emma Poole via the website.


Archaeology at the Ironworks

The middle of May saw the first archaeology at the ironworks for ten years. The ironworkers lived somewhere and we had hoped to find their shantytown, but no such luck. We found definitely where it was not!! Various useful pieces of circumstantial information were turned up but not what we hoped for.

At the beginning of May the Cubs visited us one evening as part of their local knowledge badge, which was good as some were obviously interested.

The Society came for a gentle stroll on 10th August, which was all we could do as it turned out to be the hottest day of the year at 33.8 degrees C. We had a reasonable turnout so it was appropriate to announce that we were approaching the Heritage Lottery Fund to help us with work at the site.

And now all the previous excavations and history can be found in a book called “Fernhurst Furnace” written by John Magilton, who was in charge of the excavations in 1989, Carla Barnes and Jeremy Hodgkinson, chairman of Wealden Iron Research Group. The book is on sale at the Fernhurst Centre priced £12.00

Anyone wanting information or guided walks please contact Robin or Carla Barnes via the website.


Junior Fernhurst Society

This initiative is having a long gestation but we now have a better idea of what we want to do. The plan is to have a session once a month on a Saturday morning for children under 10 at the school premises. These will involve the children in the same sort of subjects as the main society – local wildlife, history, building and the environment in a way complementary to the school curriculum. If you are interested in contributing in any way whatsoever, please contact Julia Roxan via the website.


Oral History

The Oral history project has made great steps forward this summer with the recruitment of several new interviewers. With training funded and provided by the Sussex Record Office the six strong group is now expanding its’ horizons to capture the memories of a wider range of people in the village, seeking to build an oral picture of living in the parish during the last 100 years, by talking to different generations from all walks of life, including those that moved here more recently.

We are fortunate also to have recruited two people to transcribe the existing tapes and they are making good headway on this task. With the transcriptions on computer we are now looking at the possibility of publishing a book based on these oral histories, so everyone can share the rich heritage this project is capturing. If you would like to know more contact John Clark on 654632.

The Oral History group is planning to share some of these delightful memories at an evening talk next year (See Dates for your Diary).


Village Initiatives

The Fernhurst Society is involved in two new initiatives for the parish. The Parochial Church Council (PCC), Parish Council and Fernhurst Society are exploring the idea of a free village-wide monthly newsletter. A steering group is currently looking at funding, print and distribution issues. If the project gets of the ground it’s hoped the first issue will be launched in the New Year. This will not supplant this newsletter to our members but rather complement it, allowing us to tell the whole community about our activities.

Second we have been invited to participate in a Parish Council led project to develop a strategy for the community and its environment. This is variously called a “Vital Villages” project or and “Village Action Plan” and will involve wide consultation with many different groups in the village, including trying to reach those who often do not have a voice in such endeavours.

Watch this space for more information – we may well be asking you for your views too over the next year or so on a range of issues. If you would like to be involved I am sure the Parish Council would welcome further input. Please contact Sue Ogilvy on 651593.


Tales from the Wildside

The Louisiana State Department Wildlife is advising hikers, hunters, fishermen, and golfers to take extra precautions and keep alert for alligators while in St. Tammany, Jefferson & Orleans areas.

They advise people to wear noise-producing devices such as "little bells" on their clothing to alert, but not startle the alligators, unexpectedly. They also advise carrying "pepper spray" in case of an encounter with an alligator.

It's also a good idea to watch for fresh signs of alligator activity and be able to recognize the difference between young alligator and adult alligator droppings.

Young alligator droppings are small, contain fish bones and possibly bird feathers.

Adult alligators droppings have little bells in them and smell like pepper.


Dates for your Diaries

All these events are free to Fernhurst Society members (except the Christmas Party). Non-members are also very welcome, so please bring guests and tell your friends.

Sunday 9th November – 2pm-3:30pm Walking the Parish Boundary
Following the success of the parish boundary walk at Easter we plan to walk the next (shorter) leg between Bell Vale Lane and Vale Wood. The route is 3 miles round trip and is easy going. Transport back to the start point will be available for those who only want to the outward walk of 1.5 miles. Meet at the junction of Bell Vale Lane and the Haslemere Road at 2pm. Suggested car parking in the lay-by on west side of Haslemere Road in front of previous Shrimptons Restaurant.

Monday 17th November – 7:30pm for 8pm AGM and Evening Talk
Following the (brief!) AGM at the Village Hall there will be a fascinating talk about Recycling by Julie Wilkinson of WSCC and Renewable Energy by Linda Glynn. Both will focus on initiatives at a local level.
Members free, Non-members £1 on the door. Teas and Coffees served.

Saturday 13th December – 7:30pm – Society Christmas Party
A Christmas sit-down fork buffet in the Village Hall, with live entertainment provided by the Petworth Edwardians, followed by music for old-time dancing. Free glass of punch on arrival. Bring your own bottle. Tickets at £12.50 per person will be on sale at the AGM or from Elsie Waitt (via the website). Last reservations Saturday 29th November so we can finalise the catering.
Donations of Raffle Prizes will be much appreciated. Please contact Julia Roxan via the website if you can help.

Weds 18th February 2004, 3pm- 4pm
An Afternoon with a Hawk
Local resident Nikki Hamburger will bring along Ginger, her hawk, to the Village Hall for a discussion on falconry. Please do not wear white tops as this frightens the hawk. Arnold Madgwick, leader of the Fernhurst Garden Birdwatch group, may also be persuaded to contribute to the afternoon’s entertainment!

Thurs. 18th March 2004 – 7:30pm for 8pm
Oral History Group
An evening of village memories at the Village Hall based on the Village Archives and the recordings from the Oral History Project.

Thurs 22nd April 2004 – 7:30pm for 8pm Sussex at War
Talk at the Village Hall given by Alan Redman of the West Sussex Record Office.

Chichester District Council’s Planning Committee are scheduled to discuss the proposed developments and planning applications for KEVII and South Leys on Wednesday 15th October. Members of the public are welcome to attend. Contact CDC for further information on the meeting.

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