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The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 31, October 2008


Remaining events for 2008

Thursday 23rd October, 7.30pm “Cost effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint” - talk by Sandy Polak on what simple changes we can make to be greener.
Sunday 28th October or 2nd November at 2.00pm The walk planned for  Verdley Wood for 5th October had to be postponed due to torrential rain. See website for date.
Thursday 27th November, 7.30pm AGM and talk by David Coward “North Ambersham in a nutshell.”



AGM followed by talk by David Coward,
“North Ambersham in a nutshell”

Thursday, 27 November, 7 30 pm, Village Hall

David Coward has researched the history of a mysterious part of Hampshire that became the modern day Fernhurst parish – the old Hampshire tithing of North Ambersham. By examining historical records and censuses, he has pieced together a fascinating picture of the early history of the area and the lives and local society in the region, concentrating mainly on the period covering the 19th century. His talk will be of particular interest to anyone with Fernhurst area connections and/or a curiosity for Fernhurst parish history, and will include ways and means of unravelling their own family history.

Everyone is welcome, particularly non-members, to David’s talk and the AGM.

Those attending will be offered a free glass of wine or coffee and biscuits.


Green newsletters!

Thank you to those of you that requested a “green newsletter.” If you have not already requested an electronic newsletter and would like to help us save money and resources please e-mail your details to Sarah Matthews via the Society's email address.


Who’s Who on the Committee


Following on from April’s insight into what Iain Brown crams into his busy life Ralph Carver tells us why he’s involved with the Fernhurst Society.

Ralph Carver
Ralph became a member of the Society early in its existence. He had lived on Marley Heights since the mid-seventies and after retirement moved down into the village in 2005, joining the committee in 2006. He took over producing copy for the Fernhurst News from Julia Roxan, but he thinks he lacks her IT skills.

He has long links with the general area.His mother’s parents had a house on Liphook golf course, from which she was married in 1935 and in which Ralph spent part of many school holidays while his own parents worked abroad. Not surprisingly, this early exposure to golf resulted in a lifelong interest. He is now the longest-standing member of the club – but by no means the oldest. He serves on the main committee and chairs the green committee.

Ralph’s career has mostly involved running big buildings. He ran Gamages department store, closing it down for redevelopment, Earls Court and Olympia, the exhibition centres, and the World Trade Centre in Dubai. On returning to England, he had a fulfilling second career in outplacement, mainly helping very senior people to find a way forward after they had lost their jobs.

Ralph and his wife Frances live in Church Road. Their daughter and family have a house on Blackdown making it easy to stay in touch.


Cost-Effective Ways to Reduce your Carbon (CO2) Footprint

- Why should we reduce CO2?
- What causes CO2?
- How can we reduce our “footprint”, and save money at the same time?   

The talk will address these issues and will be divided into the following sub-topics:
- Home heating
- Electricity
- Cars and other travel
- Air travel
- Eco technologies

The discussion will focus on what we, as individuals and householders, can do. There are some "easy wins" – actions or devices which save CO2, save money, and do not require any change of lifestyle. And there are others, (including some which have been promoted by the government), which are a waste of time, money and energy.  And a whole spectrum in between.

The speaker, Sandy Polak, is an engineer who has been dismayed by some of the irrational and contradictory messages in the media regarding green issues. This talk puts all the major issues into a rational framework, and debunks some myths.


Walk on Ebernoe Common

The Fernhurst Society organised walk at Ebernoe Common guided by Alf Simpson who has been involved with the common for many years and knows every corner of it.

The four hour, approximately three mile, walk went in slight circles around about one third of the common allowing chances of another walk in the future. Alf showed us many aspects of what is being achieved there. The wild flower meadow was looking spectacular with ox-eye daisies and a multitude of orchids,  both the common spotted and butterfly varieties.

Another field was being planted up specifically to encourage butterflies and Alf explained that it was hotter there than in any other part of the common, because it was so sheltered. He showed how a gate way space that was no longer in use had been planted up giving both the smaller birds and smallest mammals a chance to get from one part of the hedge to the other without being spotted by birds of prey. We were shown the ancient woodland, a rapidly declining ecological area with many of the indicators such as Dog Mercury growing.

Later we stopped to picnic by an old brick kiln that is know to have supplied bricks to Petworth as far back as the 1600's but stopped being used in the 1930's and has been restored recently thanks to an Heritage Lottery grant. As we passed the old furnace pond which was used to collect water to power the bellows for the iron work's furnace we saw varieties of damsel fly and even a slow worm.

The wak was much enjoyed on a very beautiful day and many hope to be able to have another in a slightly different part of the common.


Update on 1901 Census

1901 Census - The project has been in abeyance over recent months and we are looking for volunteers to lead further work on one or more fronts. If you are interested, please contact John Buchanan via the Society's email address.


Oral History group

This group now has a team of seven interviewers armed with a very long list of Fernhurst residents to be interviewed, to add to the collection of 59 recorded memories deposited in the Fernhurst Archives and in the West Sussex Record Office. The latest interview, of Peggy Bulbeck, was made by Ralph Carver on a high-quality compact digital recorder recently purchased by the Society. The recorder produces far better quality recordings than our previous efforts with ‘old-fashioned’ cassette tape. Anyone who wishes to help to record new interviews, to transcribe recordings or to suggest potential interviewees, please contact the coordinator, Richard Ranft via the Society's email.


Fernhurst website

The Society’s website at now has over 100 pages packed with information particularly on the history of Fernhurst village and parish. This year a large amount of new information has been added: tables of Fernhurst parish censuses and tithe data, thanks to transcriptions from Society members and from historians David Coward and Trevor Hill; and more archive photos and even a video of the Furnace open days. Every day an average of 50 people ‘visit’ the website, and such is the spread of the web that over the past year it has been accessed from 97 countries! Web logs show that the most popular pages besides the home page are those describing Edwardian school days, the censuses, the furnace and iron industry, local photographs, and Sandy Polak’s article on reducing your carbon footprint. The entire website has been selected for permanent preservation by the UK Web Archiving Consortium, which preserves selected websites of national interest. For more information or to add photos and other information, visit the website or contact the webmaster Richard Ranft via the Society's email address.  


What’s new at the Archive

Tankards have been our big story over the summer. At the end of WW2 returning service personnel were presented with pewter tankards by the grateful people of Fernhurst in recognition of their war efforts. We were presented with one and by coincidence, another followed a week later. The story was featured in the Midhurst & Petworth Observer and another Fernhurst ex-serviceman got in touch about his and our ex-postman Ken Newman said that his mother had been presented with a pewter bowl, also similarly inscribed. We’re now hoping that there are more out there!

We have already started working towards the Village Hall Centenary Celebrations next April. There is going to be a major exhibition with many local organisations involved.

Other donations were a copy of Professor Paul Foster’s delightful book on Maureen Duke thanking us for our help in his research, Malcolm Coles from an old Fernhurst family donated several hitherto unseen photos and our old friend David Coward provided a map of the Fernden Estate as it was in 1904.

Christine Maynard
Fernhurst Archive


Junior Fernhurst Society

The September meeting of the Junior Fernhurst Society took place at Thursley Common. A turnout of 15 young people (plus parents) was the best we have had for a while. The morning started misty, but cleared to be a spectacular, sunny autumn day.

The theme for the day was Geocaching (more info on This activity uses hand held GPS receivers with pre-programmed coordinates of checkpoints. At each checkpoint is a "treasure box". When you find the box you sign the log book contained within it and, if you wish, swap one of the items in the treasure box for something you have brought along.

The walk was relatively short at 1.8 miles. Six groups were formed, each with their own programmed receiver. Each group did their own navigation, whilst the whole party kept loosely together. The route kept mainly to the boardwalks. At the end of the morning the concencus was that all of the young people (and adults) had loved the activity.
A big thank you to Liz Codd for organising the morning.


Future Meets for 2008

Saturday 15th November Walk at Chithurst
Saturday 20th December Short walk in Fernhurst followed by mince pies at the Fernhurst Centre

The Junior section meets once a month usually in the morning on the third Saturday for a 2 hour nature walk. Children 5 + years old are very welcome, along with their parents. Under 7s must be accompanied. Please contact Sue Gibbon via the Society's email for further information