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The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 28, October 2007



Final Events for 2007


Thursday 25th October: Talk by Maureen Duke about her grandfather the celebrated Fernhurst artist, Francis Hurst Eastwood.
Francis Eastwood (1855-1944) was a renowned Victorian artist who frequently exhibited at the Royal Academy and at the Haslemere Society of Artists. He lived in Compton,Surrey, then Haslemere and finally built Woodsome House in Fernhurst. Many of his paintings are of local scenes and Maureen will be showing some of these as well as talking about his life and links with Fernhurst.
In the Village Hall, doors open at 7.30pm for 8pm start

Thursday 29th November: AGM combined with the opening of the Voices of Fernhurst Exhibition and Auction of a Painting by FH Eastwood
Come and bid at the Special ‘Silent Auction’. Maureen Duke is auctioning a double sided oil painting of local views by her grandfather, the renowned Victorian artist Francis Hurst Eastwood.
In the Village Hall, 7.30pm for 8 pm start.

Friday 30th November and Saturday 1st December: Voices of Fernhurst Exhibition
Now’s your chance to hear some of the original recordings made for the  ‘Voices of Fernhurst’ project and discover more about village history. See interesting historical material including original documents, artefacts, and fascinating photographs – plus an inside look at the ‘Voices of Fernhurst’ book production. There’ll also be a chance to sample the website and enjoy the Primary School’s very own display. With village books and other items on sale – there’s so much more to see! In the Village Hall.

 Friday 30th November10am to 8pm.;
 Saturday 1st December  10am to 4pm.

Free refreshments available on both days and free wine between 6-8pm on 30th November.



Important notice: future of the Fernhurst Society

The Fernhurst Society is approaching a crisis in that there are currently no prospective candidates for the posts of Chairman and Deputy Chairman. The current holders of these posts are not prepared to continue beyond the AGM, and other existing members of the committee are not prepared to take on these roles.

It is hoped that by the date of the AGM (at the end of November), that someone will be found to take on each of these roles. However, all those approached to date have declined. It is not arduous but many of us are already multi-hatted – it is much more healthy to wear a single hat.

Without these posts filled, technically, under Charity Commission law, the Fernhurst Society would have to close down. This is not a step that anyone wants to take.

An alternative suggested is that if no new Chairman and Deputy can be found by the time of the AGM, that the majority of the Fernhurst Society activities should be "put on ice". The Archive would continue, the Junior FSoc regular outings could continue for the time being, the Website would continue, and all essential insurances etc. would remain in place. But no new activities and no new projects would be planned or implemented, including the 2008 walks and talks programme.

This would cut the committee's workload to a minimum, and would hopefully enable the Society to remain in existence until such time as people come forward who are willing to take on the necessary roles and reactivate the society. A chairman and vice chairman are still needed to maintain this "on ice" status, but the workload should be minimal, and it is hoped that some persons will be prepared to take these roles under these circumstances.

Normally at this time of year, the Society sends out the Membership Subscription forms. In view of the (substantial) risk that the Society may have to be put on ice, or possibly closed down, we are delaying the issue of Subscription forms until the matter has been resolved. A decision on the future will be taken at the AGM on November 29th.

If you are prepared to take a role in helping the Fernhurst Society continue, please contact any member of the committee to discuss. The committee are (in alphabetical order):

Penny Allanson-Bailey; Robin Barnes (Chairman); Iain Brown; John Buchanan (Treasurer);Ralph Carver; John Clark; Anthony Davies; Dave Gibbon; David Hayward; Christine Maynard; Peter Monger; Brenda Newman; Sandy Polak; Richard Ranft; Julia Roxan (Vice Chairman); Elsie Waitt


South Downs National Park

In July 2007, the SDNP inquiry inspector published his report, and while recommending the creation of the National Park, he also recommended that the Western Weald, including Fernhurst, be excluded. If this occurs, the current AONB status could also be under threat, leading to an explosion of development.

The Fernhurst Society has taken a proactive stand in the campaign to have the Western Weald included in the Park. We have submitted objections to DEFRA, who are coordinating the consultation process, as well as writing to Jonathan Shaw, Minister for the South East, Andrew Tyrie our MP and local councillors. The outline of the objections is as follows.

“The Fernhurst Society objects to the revised boundary excluding the Parish of Fernhurst from the proposed South Downs National Park. The exceptional countryside and heritage in and around Fernhurst can only be protected and enhanced by being part of the National Park. Exclusion will divert resources and efforts and introduce pressures for development in and around Fernhurst; including those displaced from and serving visitors to, the National Park. The option of a West Weald AONB would offer some protection, but it would be weaker than that provided by current AONB and exclusion from within the previously designated National Park would send the wrong signal.”

The Society have asked the Minister to reject the Inspector’s recommendation to exclude the Western Weald, but if he is minded to accept the recommendation, the inquiry should be reopened. This would give us and all other interested parties the opportunity to address the Inspector’s and his landscape advisor’s views and conclusions.

More information on Fernchat and the South Downs Campaign. You can still support the campaign by signing the on line petition to the Prime Minister on the South Downs campaign website.


A Look at Recent Events


Global Warming talk by John Clement, 5 April 2007

John used to work at ICI / Zeneca as an environmental scientist, has since worked as an environmental advisor to government organisations in Europe and worldwide. His talk was entitled "Global Warming – Political Hype or Reality?", a subject which is prominent in the media and on the political agenda. John's presentation made this relatively dry scientific subject very accessible and easily understandable even to the less scientifically-minded in the audience.

For the benefit of those who were unable to attend, below are some of the key points and messages. The slides and illustrations (which are largely self-explanatory) are on the Fernhurst Society website, if you want more details.

John divided his talk into four topics / questions:

What is happening?  Measurements show clearly that the planet is going through a period of rapid global warming. Of course there have been previous periods of global warming, and the opposite (ice-ages), but none have been remotely as rapid as the present one.

What are the reasons?  Many things affect global climate. Variations in the earth's orbit cause long-term changes. Variations in solar radiation (the sunspot cycle) have an effect. Large volcanoes putting dust into the atmosphere have a cooling effect. Greenhouse gases  (Carbon Dioxide- CO2, Methane – CH4, CFCs, and others), increase temperatures by trapping infra-red heat which would otherwise be re-radiated into space.

Climate modelling has until recently been a very inexact science. Improvements in computing power and modelling techniques in recent years have made it less inexact, and the consensus opinion now from the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) is that the man-made increase in greenhouse gases, of which CO2 is the major part, is responsible for the majority of current global warming, with a 90+% certainty.

John pointed out that the modelling and the scientific consensus is still not 100% certain, but that we may not have the luxury of time available to wait for certainty. If we wait it may be too late to act effectively.

What is likely to happen from now on?   It is already happening – glaciers and sea-ice are melting, rainfall patterns are changing, sea levels will rise and weather will become more extreme, with bigger storms etc. Literally billions of people could be substantially affected, particularly if changed rainfall patterns and absence of glaciers as a water reservoir, cause food production in some parts of the world to be severely disrupted. The melting of the Himalayan glaciers will cause havoc for billions of people living in the 7 river systems fed by these glaciers across Asia.

Even if we stopped producing CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) now, these global warming effects will continue for some time. If we make no changes, the effects will be more severe, potentially catastrophic.

What can we do?  We could "keep our fingers crossed for 200 years" and hope that the climatologists have got it wrong. But that is a big gamble, which our descendants might not thank us for taking. What we should do, is to reduce CO2 (and other) emissions, avoiding unnecessary use of carbon-based fuels, being prudent with the necessary use of such fuels, and using carbon offsetting and carbon sequestering (a new technology proposed for power stations).

John gave quite an optimistic summing up of this otherwise depressing scenario. He feels that western countries, even small ones like Great Britain, can and will take a political and practical lead on these issues, and influence the whole world. He encouraged us all to go and exert our influence where we can!

Walk on Chapel Common, Sunday 22nd April 2007

Led by the Land Rover of Rob Free, a South Downs Joint Committee Ranger, a caravan of vehicles set out from Crossfield for Chapel Common, just beyond the old A3, between Rake and Liphook. Chapel Common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a highlight on the 64-mile long Serpent Trail which follows the Wealden greensand hills. From the car park, we initially followed the track past a yew planted on the Milland parish boundary to mark the millennium. We then branched out across the common, before pausing by a marshy pond area to examine shoots of young aspen trees. Feeding on these shoots were the larvae of the red poplar beetle. These larvae in turn, act as host for the eggs of a small wasp and provide a meal for the juveniles.

Passing on, we joined the route of the Roman road which ran from Chichester to Silchester. On a bare piece of ground, devoid of the heathers which covered much of the grassland, our guide pointed out minute plants of the mossy stonecrop. Without his expert guidance, we would surely not have noticed this plant which does not grow anywhere else in the county because to the untrained eye it appeared little more than a splash of red paint.

Our route then took us through a woodland area where we were able to examine lichens festooning the trees and providing an indicator of the age of the woodland. We then returned to the open grassland. We made our way back to the car park, closely observed by a herd of Shetland cattle, a small breed adapted to harsh winters and poor grazing, which was introduced to manage the heath by keeping the invasive scrub in check.

Chapel Common is home to all of our native snakes but, if any were about, they made themselves scarce as the sounds of our party approached. Much to our disappointment we also failed to catch a glimpse of the skylark which nests here, but we all had a thoroughly enjoyable and educational afternoon as well gentle exercise.


Butterfly Walk 10th June

Our first outing, scheduled for May 27th, was rained off. Three inches of rain fell nearby and the following day turned out to be one of the coldest May days on record. Our second attempt, on June 10th, was much more successful and a small group of us spent a relaxed couple of hours following a circular route along the public footpaths of Verdley Wood. There was a little more cloud and wind than might have been ideal, but it was warm and there were several prolonged sunny periods - most British butterflies prefer to fly in sunshine, when the air temperature is above about 15C.

We saw two of the four so-called "aristocrat" British species, the ubiquitous Red Admiral as well as the much rarer White Admiral. The White Admiral is a graceful, comparatively large, black butterfly with white markings. This is a species which is apparently increasing its geographic range in southern Britain, having become much rarer in the few decades prior to the 1980s; the caterpillars feed exclusively on honeysuckle. It may be interesting to note that, according to a guide book printed in 1994, we should not have seen this butterfly until at least three weeks later than we did. We also saw: Brimstone, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Common Blue.

One butterfly we had hoped we might see was the nationally rare Pearl Bordered Fritillary. This butterfly depends on violets and bugle during its lifecycle and the Cowdray Estate carefully manages the woodland rides in this area to maintain a suitable habitat for them. Unfortunately, we did not see this species as we were probably too late (and too early for a possible second generation in late June/July). It is often seen as early as April - a couple of us saw it in the same area in May last year. It is to be hoped that the fritillaries made good use of the unusually warm and dry April weather.

We saw several species of moth, the only one which we could positively identify was the Speckled Yellow which flies during the day, feeds on nectar and does quite a good butterfly impression!  We also saw what could have been Spiked Speedwell growing by the path - our guide book indicated that this is quite a rare plant.
Our walk was accompanied throughout by birdsong from Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Willow Warbler and Blackcap amongst others. We hope to repeat the walk in May next year - perhaps also organising a similar expedition in search of moths.


Midhurst Town Walk  8th July

About 14 members attended the Midhurst Town Walk on a hot, sunny Sunday in July and enjoyed a fascinating stroll round the town in the delightful company of Midhurst historian Bridget Howard.

Although most of us probably thought we knew Midhurst pretty well, Bridget really opened our eyes to many interesting details of architecture that helped identify the history of a particular building, such as 16th century carpenters’ marks on timbers to make sure they were fitted in the right place and varieties of pargetting and window styles. She also pointed out that corner houses often had rounded walls on the ground floor to prevent damage to wall or vehicle when carriages were turning.

The town plan of Midhurst has also simplified over the years, with several narrow cross-streets absorbed into neighbouring houses and she pointed out where they would have been.

With her many stories and anecdotes, Bridget really brought the town’s history to life and we all left feeling we’d like to know even more.


Fernhurst Junior Society

We aim to interest children aged 5 to 10 in wildlife and nature around Fernhurst, by organising fun walks in the area. This summer there has been a bluebell walk to the Furnace Ponds, walks on Iping Common,at Burton and Chingford Ponds and to Bridgelands via the Scout Hut.

The next walk is a repeat of last year’s highly popular Chestnut Roasting on Saturday 13th October. The final walk will be at Witley Common on Saturday 17th November.


Hedgerow Recording

We would like to find out if there are any members or other members of the public out there who would like to record hedgerows in the Parish. Training in identification will be given and it’s a great way of getting to parts of the Parish that you might not otherwise visit. Identifying the species mix and diversity gives a clue as to the age of the hedge and often its purpose i.e. field/ownership/Parish boundary. The data collected is sent to the West Sussex Wildlife recording centre. Obviously the Spring time is the best time when trees/shrubs are in flower and leaf but if there is enough interest, we could gear ourselves up to start running in May. We have a lot of identification books that we could lend and if you get interested, there are good sources of second hand books available locally. It is not strenuous in any way and clothing and footgear for a normal country walk suffices.

If you would like to learn more or definitely wish to participate please contact Mrs Sue Ogilvy or Iain Brown via the Society's email