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The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 34, February 2010


2010 membership subscriptions

Membership subscriptions for this year are now due. If you have already renewed, then you need do nothing. If you have not renewed, you will find enclosed with this newsletter a membership renewal form. Please complete and return this with your year’s subscription, as soon as possible, to the address at the bottom of the form. We of course hope you will continue to enjoy the benefits of membership, but if for some reason you do not wish to renew, please do let Richard Ranft know all the same so that he can keep the membership database up to date.

We hope that all members who use email will allow the Society to communicate via email. It enables us to send you information more regularly and reduces our paper and postage costs. So please do add or confirm your email addresses on the renewal form. Honorary and Life members will find enclosed a different form, asking only for confirmation of current email addresses. If you do not wish to use email, we shall of course deliver paper copies as usual.

Get a friend to join the Fernhurst Society and receive a free book!

Please give a friend or relative a copy of the enclosed Society’s leaflet and encourage them to join. As a special offer this year, not only will new members receive a complimentary copy of the lavishly illustrated and much admired Voices of Fernhurst book completely free with their first year’s membership, but we’ll also send you a complimentary copy if you or the new member notifies us of the referral. If you already have a copy of the book, a second copy will make a very welcome gift for a friend or relative!


Programme Spring 2010

Thursday 25th February
TALK on the Southern Wey and the River Wey Trust by Adrian Bird
Fernhurst Village Hall 7.30pm for 8pm start
Adrian is the leading member of the Trust and will talk about the Southern Wey River which rises on Blackdown Hill with another branch rising on Gibbet Hill. These join the Northern Wey at Tilford. This will be an interesting account of one of our local rivers
Sunday 28th March
Walk on Titty Hill, led by Iain Brown
Meet at Crossfield Car Park at 1.45pm
Iain will be our guide looking at native daffodils
Thursday 29th April
Talk on Garden Bird Watch by Mike Toms
Fernhurst Village Hall 7.30 for 8pm start
Mike is the Head of Garden Ecology at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and organiser of the National Garden Watch Scheme
Sunday 16th May
Fernhurst Revels
The Society will have a stand at the Revels with a range of books, pamphlets & maps on display
Sunday 13th June
WALK at the Mens Nature Reserve and ancient woodland at Fittleworth
Final details to be announced later



Garden Bird Watch

We now have received from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO ) a number of copies of their magazine "Bird Table" together with an application forms to join their garden bird watch reporting scheme. The BTO provide all the necessary forms and guidance, paper or electronic, for the modest sum of £15 per annum and to give encouragement your Fernhurst Society committee have decided to subsidise half the cost for the first year. Please contact Iain Brown via the Society's email if you have not yet received your copies or want to join. We are fortunate that Mike Toms, who is the Garden Bird Watch (GBW) organiser, has family living in Haslemere, and he has agreed to visit them and at the same time give a talk to the Society. Put the 29th of April in your diary now, 7.30 for 8 pm in the Village Hall. Mike has agreed if we get enough of us doing the GBW that he will do an quarterly analysis of the birds in the area on the post code GU27 3


Who’s who on the Committee

Continuing our series about members of the Committee, our new chairman Richard Ranft tells us why he’s involved with the Fernhurst Society.

Richard Ranft – Chairman

Richard moved to Fernhurst in 1992 with his partner Elaine and two daughters. Both daughters attended Fernhurst primary, Midhurst intermediate and grammar schools and are now at universities in London. Richard works in London at the British Library, running its national sound collection of 3½ million recordings. He is currently initiating a new project to map contemporary dialects across the UK using the latest generation of GPS-enabled mobile phones. For many years he curated its bioacoustics recordings, developing interests in birds, bats and other creatures and their sounds, producing a range of CDs and providing specialist training courses. He maintains his professional interest in the subject as editor of an international academic journal and as president of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society.

Richard joined the Fernhurst Society in 1999. He recently became chairman and also continues to manage its membership database and the oral history project. He launched the Society’s website in 2001 with just five pages, unsure whether it would have any real value. The site now has over 140 pages packed with information contributed by members and gets many visitors from all over the world, bringing in a regular stream of family history and other enquiries. Besides managing three other websites and developing his computer skills, Richard has a keen interest in travel and natural history, having studied zoology at university and undertaken extensive field research in the Amazon rainforest. He has given Society talks and led walks on birds and their sounds and enjoys walking in the Sussex countryside. Richard says that his involvement in the Society enables him to learn much more about Fernhurst and its villagers and is a very enjoyable way to participate in the local community.



Review of Recent Activities

South Downs National Park by Huw Davies on 26th November 2009
Huw Davies came from the South Downs National Park Establishment team, based in Midhurst, to discuss the initial stages of implementation of the National Park. The new Park area was designated in the autumn of 2009, and the Park Authority, who will run the Park, will be established on 1st April 2010, when it takes over from the South Downs Joint Committee.

Unlike other National Parks, the new Park is not in remote or wild areas, though much is already an ANOB. The main difference with other Parks is that the Park Authority will be quite small, and thus have to rely on existing arrangements and Councils to implement many objectives of the Park. Planning in particular will probably remain under existing systems though planning restrictions may be slightly tightened.

Although much of the details of how the Park will operate were still in discussion at the time of the talk, one conclusion appears to be that the level of protection given by the new Park may not be much greater than we now have under the existing ANOB.

Archive Report for January 2010
After a quiet December and January working on various ongoing enquiries, the Archive team has three particular objectives this year.

The first is taking part in the Joining up our Heritage project sponsored by WSRO, which has already been mentioned. They recently sent us a facsimile of the Fernhurst Tithe Map of 1846 which will greatly help pinpoint natural features, buildings such as farms and places of work, etc, roads, events and where and how people lived. We are also planning an exhibition to take place in the autumn on the theme of ICI/Zeneca/Syngenta. We already have quite a wealth of material but are sure that with publicity over the next few months more in the way of photographs and documents will come to light.

The third is ‘chipping away at our rockpile’ i.e. cataloguing our ever-growing collection and trying to work out the best way to provide access to that information. A recent donation is a collection of photos of Fernhurst Girl Guides in the 1930s. Some photos are particularly interesting as they show the Village Hall and contemporary vehicles.



Snippet from the Past: MISS ALICE TUDOR (1874 – 1941)

Fernhurst Revels is surely the biggest village event of the year, with its colourful and time-honoured ceremony of Crowning the May Queen, Maypole Dancing and St George Slaying the Dragon. It brings together young and old, new, present and former residents, some of whom moved away maybe decades ago. Most do not realise that they are celebrating the legacy of Miss Alice Tudor, for it was she who was the driving force behind the Fernhurst Revels as we know it today.

There are records of May Queens being crowned in the 1880s, but the event seems to have died out by the early 1900s. After the First World War, she, aided by her sister Elizabeth, set about reviving the ancient custom of celebrating May Day in Fernhurst, based on authentic records. She also wrote the May Day Hymn which is still sung at every Revels.

Once in the spring of life, Queen of the May
Tread through the summer of life, the Queen’s Highway,
On through the fall of life, cheerily sing,
Knowing the winter of life leads back to the spring

Alice was the fourth daughter of Mr Owen Scripps Tudor, a very successful businessman, who moved his family to Fernhurst on his retirement in 1905. He bought Friday’s Hill House and a large tract of glebe land. Within four years he had leased out some of that land, at five shillings (25p) per annum, so that a Village Hall could be built. His family continued his philanthropy, both in time and money.

Miss Tudor, who was 31 when she came to Fernhurst, devoted herself to village life. She was active on many social, educational and church committees, taught country dancing and was chiefly responsible for a series of very popular lectures given over several years by many famous speakers.

She was also honorary secretary of the Fernhurst Cottage Building Society, which built or acquired and modernised many homes in the village during the 1920s and 30s. Her book ‘Fernhurst : the Story of a Sussex Village’, originally published in the 1930s, and reprinted in 1969, is a scholarly yet lively work and still much referred to.

The whole village mourned the passing of this much-loved lady in 1941. A typical tribute was ‘we saw her daily, a sort of ministering angel to all sick households and the confidant of all in trouble’.