Return to Homepage


AddThis Social Bookmark Button



The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 18, February 2004


New Year and new projects are born

2004 brings renewed energy to a host of Fernhurst Society activities.

The biggest new development is the launch of the Junior Fernhurst Society, aimed at 7 –15 year olds. After a long gestation this is about to be born.

The emphasis is to involve children in practical activities centred on nature conservation and understanding their local history.

Although the group will be based at the Fernhurst Youth Club and will use the Fernhurst Centre, the ambition is to be out and about involving the young with hands-on projects.

The first project, starting on Saturday 28th February, is to conserve a small plot of land that belongs to the Parish Council (our thanks to them for their permission) near the Recreation Ground. It is somewhat overgrown with brambles and we hope to investigate what is there and then conserve it as a more balanced local natural environment. We are fortunate that Bruce Middleton from the South Downs Conservation Board is going to provide professional advice and help, as he has done for the main Biodiversity project. We also thank Chichester District Council for their funding of this project.

Other ideas are to -

  • create and follow nature trails
  • find out about local birds and animals
  • discover the history of the village (how did the roads get their names? Which are the oldest houses and how were they built?)

But the children’s interests will guide us too.

The group will meet once a month on a Saturday morning at the Youth Club. So far, at the time of writing, we have 24 children enrolling in the group. We hope that this new group will grow further and will instill the children with an appreciation of their local environment that will stay with them as they grow up. Perhaps they will become the next leaders of the Biodiversity projects!
If you would like to help or want to know more, please contact Julia via the website

Other initiatives gaining momentum are an Oral History Publication and CD and the Village Orchard. Read more below….


South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park Inquiry started in November last year and is now expected to run a month longer than originally scheduled, completing by September. It has already made one change to the Designation order, to include an area of land near Arundel that was previously excluded due to a proposed bypass. Plans for the bypass have been abandoned by the Department of Transport so this tract is now being included.

The Countryside Agency (CA) started the proceedings with a statement setting out its arguments for the South Downs to be managed under a National park Authority (NPA). These are, as before, principally arguing that the park satisfies the official definition “those extensive tracts of country ... as to which it appears to the Agency that by reason of (a) their natural beauty, and (b) the opportunities being afforded for open-air recreation, having regard both to their character and to their position in relation to centres of population, it is especially desirable that the necessary measures shall be taken for the purpose of preserving and enhancing their natural beauty ... and for the purpose of promoting their enjoyment by the public” (their underlining). The CA believes these underlined criteria are fully met in this case and that AONB status, limited as it is to one function alone (namely areas of outstanding natural beauty and for the purpose of conserving and enhancing that beauty) does not provide sufficient access to funding and management structures.

West Sussex County Council’s has stated its objection to the NPA to the Inquiry. It holds that a Conservation Board is a preferable a way of managing the pressures on the South Downs and in particular the areas covered by the Sussex Downs and East Hampshire Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Its main arguments are:

  • An enhanced South Downs Conservation Board can do just as good a job on land and visitor management as a NPA as long as it has the right resources.
  • A Conservation Board can focus on conservation rather than the promotion of recreation making it a more appropriate body to manage the AONBs.
  • A Conservation Board has closer ties to the local communities.

Chichester District Council’s (CDC) statement makes further points:

  • “The CA has failed to demonstrate that the South Downs cannot be conserved and enhanced satisfactorily by a Statutory Conservation Board (SCB);”
  • “Compared with the likely budget for a NPA of this size (likely to be in excess of £7.16 M), an SCB could deliver first class management for a fraction of the cost;”
  • “The powers and responsibilities of SCBs in respect of AONBs are similar to those of NPAs with the exception of the need to promote recreation. With pressures on the South Downs created by a massive number of visits per year, the last thing the Downs need is ‘promoting’.”
  • “The proposed boundary to the National Park as it relates to Chichester District is illogical and, as a direct result of its size, creates unnecessary problems for any future NPA. Should a National Park be designated, CDC believes it should be confined to the chalk landscape.”
  • “It is not especially desirable to designate a National Park for planning purposes. There is a perception that National Park status will afford the Downs greater protection from damaging developments and that a NPA will make better decisions. Neither perception is correct”
  • “The increasing requirement to integrate spatial planning policy with community planning using Local Strategic Partnerships and ensuring that land use policy delivers community aspirations as expressed, for example, in the Community Strategy, provide strong justification for leaving planning with local authorities.”
  • “The District Council performs its development control function in a highly efficient and effective manner and deals with a high volume of applications. Under the proposed arrangement, a significant area of the District would come under the control of the NPA. Within Chichester District alone, the NPA would be dealing with more applications per annum than any existing National Park. CDC is concerned to ensure that the local democratic input into development control is maintained and that a system which replicates the function of the local authorities, but in a less democratic and less accessible form, is avoided.”

As the Inquiry continues we will keep you posted.
PS Sorry about all the acronyms!


Fernhurst Village Archive

Most of the enquiries to the Archive over the last few months have been by email, but we did also get a Christmas card from a contact in Australia whom we have already supplied with information about the Abel family. This was to let us know he is hoping to visit the UK, and drop into Fernhurst Archive in June to do more research.

Donations include two albums of photographs of the Fernhurst Optimists Amateur Dramatics Society’s productions and a photo of the 1935 Revels. We are always interested in receiving photographs relating to the Revels, or indeed, any other village events.

The team are currently gleaning many interesting details of village life from the deeds of a cottage in Vann Road spanning 200 years that have been loaned and we would be most grateful to have sight of any other such documents.

Work is also in progress to log and computerise every item in the collection, a mammoth but inevitable task if we are to keep track of our ever-growing collection.


Fernhurst Society Wildlife Exhibition

The Wildlife Exhibition has taken place since our last newsletter. The general consensus seems to be that it was a great success, largely due to the dedication of all those involved, but special thanks to the team leaders (Robin Barnes on the local weather, Iain Brown on verges, hedges and local archaeology, Steve Homewood on owls, Arnold Madgwick on birds, reptiles, mammals and photo competition, and Richard Ranft on bats) and our project manager Peter Taylor. Huge thanks too to Les Colcutt for his superb three-dimensional model of the parish. This is in the glass-fronted cabinet in the Village Hall Committee Room; so if you missed the exhibition, do try to see it.

Also our thanks to the Archive team for their fascinating display – including Ralph Lines’ model aircraft dogfight. Last, but not least, our thanks to all the volunteers manning the front door and refreshments.
We had around 600 people through the doors over the weekend, including many young families (the children’s quiz went down so well we had to buy more prizes!). We hope this indicates a good level of interest in our local landscape and wildlife and hope that some of you might be inspired to get involved in a more hands-on way this coming year.

We have also had very positive feedback from the Countryside Agency team who came to the exhibition and a clear indication that more funding could be available if we want it.

In parallel with the Wildlife Exhibition we also held the local Arts and Crafts show in the Committee Room. There was barely room to move for two reasons: the wealth of local talent in the village was truly remarkable, and the number of people admiring it!

Exhibits included pottery, woodwork, art, photography, lace, embroidery, patchwork, knitting and models. We certainly have some talented people in our midst.

Fernhurst Biodiversity Projects

On the ground progress has slowed in the face of the winter weather and the Christmas break. However our bird watchers have been busy as ever recording their garden visitors. Arnold reports that Fernhurst is still matching the national list for garden birds, with the exception of Reed Buntings and Black-headed Gulls (no surprise there!). A delightful flock of redpolls has been spotted hanging from the branches of a silver birch, well worth seeing if you can grab your binoculars (they have a small red patch on the forehead and the male has a light red breast with streaked plumage).

Another excitement is a photograph of a kingfisher in someone’s hand. The bird had collided with a car, slowly recovered and then flew off. A privilege to see one so close.

Frequent reports of mammals (foxes, roe and Muntjac deer, moles, voles, wood mice, hedgehogs, stoat weasels and badgers) suggest there might be a need for a formal Mammal reporting group. If you would like to be involved contact Arnold via the website

What next for Biodiversity?

The Biodiversity Committee, after drawing a deep breath, is now looking at what next. Generally the Biodiversity projects are in abeyance pending finding a new leader. The individual team leaders are continuing with their projects (bats, owls, weather, verges, landscape history etc.), but we need someone to pull the whole project together. We have ideas but need a leader! If you are interested please contact Julia via the website.


Fernhurst Village Orchard

The Fernhurst Society is supporting the development of a Community Orchard. This is a national initiative that has already led to the creation of many community orchards throughout England. The Fernhurst Orchard project is part-funded by Chichester District Council, and its aims are to:

  • Promote local character individuality, by planting up old local fruit varieties.
  • Provide a local community facility
  • Show school children the importance of healthy eating and the natural environment, and encourage them to respect it by involving them in the creation and running of orchards.
  • Promote nature conservation by encouraging wildlife that thrives in orchards.
  • Support locally grown produce and a wider understanding of its seasonality.
  • Make locally grown produce available to the public, and to create a visual reminder of traditional land use and rural traditions.
  • Help enhance the visual environment

Work on the Fernhurst Village Orchard project has naturally slowed during the winter months. The proposed site, at the corner of Vann Road and Van Common Road, has traditionally been rather wet. This is, of course, not conducive to fruit growing! However, investigations are under way with the Highways Agency regarding drainage problems. In the meantime the project team is monitoring the site, and will shortly ask a Brinsbury College representative for a professional advice.

Good local fruit trees urgently wanted!

We are planning to create a tree nursery in the interim, whilst the site is drained and prepared, so are looking for healthy good cropping local fruit trees from which to bud or graft new stock. We would be delighted to hear from anyone with any such trees in your garden or knows of someone local who has. This is urgent as the grafting season is imminent.
For further information on the project, or if you are interested in joining the project team or have suitable trees, please contact Emma Poole (via the website).


Archaeology at the Ironworks

Progress is being made slowly towards considerable conservation work at the ironworks. It is interesting to contrast this with the actual working at the site, which would have been working flat out at this time of year producing about a ton of cast iron per day. The most important man around would have been the water controller. All the pen ponds upstream, and there were 6 for our furnace, would have been kept full for as far into the summer as possible. Swift action would have been needed when there was a storm not to let too much water onto the wheel which needed to turned constantly at 6 revolutions per minute and no more.

The priority in 2004 is to find a Project Manager or consultant (company or individual) to commission, co-ordinate and research a Conservation Management Plan for a full application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. This would be a paid job possibly taking a year and although knowledge of archaeology and iron making would be an advantage it would by no means be necessary.

Any ideas or further information, please contact Robin Barnes via the website


Oral History

The Oral History recording and transcription team are making steady progress in taping and then typing up the memories of people in the village.

In parallel we are also putting together a project to turn this fascinating record into a book, with illustrations from the Archives and by the Art Group. The book will capture the living history of Fernhurst since the First World War. As part of this we are also planning to produce a CD or CD-ROM to accompany the book and an exhibition to launch them both. This idea is beginning to blossom, but we would welcome more people into this team. So if you are interested in helping edit a book or CD / CD-ROM (training can be provided if this is a skill you would like to learn and our funding body is keen for people to learn new skills) then please contact Julia via the website.


Village Initiatives

Fernhurst News

We reported in the last newsletter that the Parochial Church Council (PCC), Parish Council and Fernhurst Society were exploring the idea of a free village-wide monthly newsletter. With a lot of work from the steering committee the first issue is due to be delivered to all houses in the parish in March. It is called the Fernhurst News. It is hoped this will help people to stay in touch with events in the village, so please do check the Fernhurst Society pages for up to date notices about forthcoming events. Rest assured though that this will not supplant this newsletter to our members but rather complement it, allowing us to tell the whole community about our activities. In parallel a Village Directory is also being sent out, giving details about all the groups in the village and essential local information.

Parish Strategy and Action Plan

We have been participating in the Parish Council led project to develop a strategy for the community and its environment. We hope you have attended one of the meetings at the Village Hall and have found it a good opportunity to have your say. The next stage will take the views expressed at these meetings into a questionnaire to go out to the entire parish to gather the level of support for different proposals.
If you would like to be involved I am sure the Parish Council would welcome further input. Please contact Sue Ogilvy.

Dates for your Diaries

All these events are free to Fernhurst Society members. Non-members are also very welcome, so please bring guests and tell your friends.
Apologies for a mix up on days and dates in the last newsletter – we forgot 2004 is a leap year! These are the correct dates:

Thurs. 18th March 2004 – 7:30pm for 8pm
Haslemere Education Museum

A change to the previously published programme. Julia Tanner, the Curator of the Haslemere Educational Museum, will talk about the recent developments at the Museum. We hope she will also talk about artefacts from Fernhurst lodged there.

Easter Monday 12th April 2004
Beating the Bounds, part 3

This will be next leg of the parish boundary walk, building the success of last year’s two walks. Iain Brown will lead this stretch. It is an all day walk (only 3-4 miles but up and down, and lots to see on the way), so bring a packed lunch. Meet at 10am in the Fernhurst Car Park (to be ferried to start and end points) and wear stout shoes or boots – it will be damp underfoot.

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.

Various outings are planned for the summer, so we will keep you posted in the next Society Newsletter, but also watch out for details in the Fernhurst News.