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The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 41, February 2013


Programme for 2013

Thursday 28th February

Talk by Bridget Howard
‘Queen Elizabeth comes to Cowdray

Village Hall
7.30pm for 8pm

Cowdray House was one of the most important Tudor houses in the country and was visited by Queen Elizabeth 1 and by Henry VIII before the house was destroyed by fire in 1793.
Her visit is still commemorated in the Queen Elizabeth Oak in Cowdray Park, a sessile oak which is the 3rd largest in the country.
Bridget is the Historian at the Midhurst Society and her knowledge of local history is unrivalled.

Sunday 7th April
Daffodil Walk near Petworth

Mike South, ex ICI, will lead the walk to see two areas of wild daffodils east of Petworth. The visit is timed to see them in full flower, unless we have an unseasonably warm spring!

Meet at Crossfields Carpark at 1.30 pm for transport to Petworth

Thursday 25th April – Talk by Tania Pons
‘The Lost Airfield of Cowdray’

Village Hall  
7.30pm for 8pm
It was Tania’s children’s fascination with trains which took her on a remarkable journey of her own leading back to a “forgotten” naval air station of WWII, located at South Ambersham, two miles east of Midhurst, now a polo field. Cowdray Park was a satellite storage section to HMS Daedalus, RNAS Lee-on-Solent, where naval aircraft were stored, serviced and flight-tested pending their return to front-line squadrons. Tania will share with us some of the highlights of her research, much of the information having been passed to her by veterans and air cadets who flew from the South Ambersham field. The talk is illustrated throughout including wartime photographs on loan from private collections, public archives and those taken by the Royal Naval School of Photography, who also flew from Cowdray Park around the busy D-Day period. A plaque sponsored by The Midhurst Society and West Sussex County Council has now been placed near the original entrance to the naval base.

Sunday 19th May

Fernhurst Revels
The Society will again have a stand at the Revels

Sunday 23rd June
  (provisional date)

Walk on Heyshott Down

David Petche, ex ICI, and Ian Brown will lead a walk to Heyshott Down. The walk is timed to coincide with plant flowering time, particularly wild orchids of which up to 9 species may be seen. We should also be able to see many species of rare butterfly as well as enjoy some spectacular views.

Meet at Crossfields Car Park at 1.30pm for transport to Heyshott

Sunday 8th September (provisional date)

Walk- North Ambersham Boundary Part 2

The walk will cover the second part of the North Ambersham boundary walk. The first part was led by David Coward in September 2009, from Bexley Hill north to Ropes Lane.
This walk will take us past houses and features of historical interest stretching from Ropes Lane north to Fernden Lane and Bell Vale Lane and back to Fernhurst.

Meet at Crossfield Car Park 1.30pm

Fernhurst Furnace Open Weekend

14-15th September
Open Weekend at the Fernhurst Furnace, organised by the Ferhurst Furnace Preservation Society. Normally a fascinating weekend with demonstrations of many rural crafts, and military re-enactments by the Sealed Knot

A Sunday in October

Fungal Foray on Marley Common

The date will be confirmed once the optimum time for finding fungi and mushrooms in 2013 is established.

Meet at Crossfield car Park 1.30pm

Thursday 31st October- Talk by Tom Asbridge
‘The Crusades’   
Village Hall 
7.30pm for 8pm

900 years ago, a vast Christian army was summoned to Holy War by the Pope, rampaged through the Muslim world of the eastern Mediterranean and seized possession of Jerusalem, a city jointly claimed by Islam and Christians.
For the next 200 years, the armies of Islam and Christianity fought for domination of the Holy Land in a succession of brutal wars, known as the Crusades.
Tom is a world renowned authority on the Crusades and will reveal how these holy wars reshaped the medieval world, and why they continue to influence events today.

Thursday 28th November

AGM and Talk by Marion Dell on "Little Switzerland"

Village Hall
7.30pm for 8pm


At the end of the nineteenth century the area around Hindhead was re-invented as ‘Little Switzerland’, famous for its health giving pure air.

Marion Dell will discuss the many tourists and new residents who were attracted to the area at this time and the lively community which grew up in Hindhead


Subscriptions for 2013 now due

Subscription forms are being sent out over the next few days by post, or sent round by email for those members for whom we have email addresses. If you haven’t yet paid your 2013 subscription, please do so now. We have introduced online payment which is secure and convenient, allowing you to pay by credit card or via a PayPal account. Just visit to pay online. If you are a life member, please just ignore this!


With the establishment of the South Downs National Park we can anticipate some people using Fernhurst as a gateway to the park. Many of these may be walkers – of varying levels of fitness and fanaticism. We already have three booklets describing walks within Fernhurst and its very immediate surrounds. We do not, however, have any publication that concentrates on walks of, say, 5, 10, and 20 miles from and around Fernhurst. It has been suggested that this might be a worthwhile project for the village and that the Fernhurst Society might like to foster it.

Some visitors, of course, might be interested in the flora and fauna. Some might have more of a historical angle. The majority might be most interested in a good walk in lovely countryside with a congenial pub along the way for refreshments.

Successful projects nearly always have a group of people at their heart who feel that the endeavour would be fun and valuable. This note suggests a way in which interest might be stimulated and from which the initiative might snowball.

Could people think about their favourite walk(s) around the area and write down a description of them. If this can be referenced to a map, such as the Rights of Way mentioned elsewhere in this Newsletter, so much the better. Send a two-line summary via the Society's email.

If you are an active walker and would like to get involved in evaluating whether this sort of project could ‘fly’, please let us know about that, too.


The Executive Committee is hoping to launch a project researching and recording Fernhurst’s buildings of architectural and historical interest.

Drawing on the Fernhurst Archives as well as other sources, we are hoping to collate historical and architectural information of a building as well as recording the story of its uses and occupants over the years. We are hoping to publish our findings on the Society’s website and later using more traditional booklets.

At first we will look at the Parish’s listed buildings and cross reference with the Archives including census data. Later we will extend the scope to include buildings once lived in by famous residents or with a story to tell. It is a project that will hopefully live for many years as new material is acquired by the Archives and historical records are made available.

We can assure the owners and occupants of any buildings covered by the project that their privacy will be respected and no information not already in the public domain will be published without their consent.

The committee would like to hear from any member who would like to manage the project or are willing to carry out research or help in anyway.



29th November 2012: AGM followed by a Talk given by Laura Ponsonby: ‘A Taste of India’

As a botanist who used to work at Kew, Laura has visited India many times and acquired considerable knowledge of the country, as well as a sizeable collection of photos and slides. She was able to give us an illustrated flavour of many aspects of life in India. She introduced us to interesting features of different cities, including both historic and unusual buildings, some well known and some hidden gems.

Laura also talked about the people. India has a huge population, only second in number to China, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, the colourful conditions and vibrancy fascinate most travellers, as do regional variations in customs and traditions.

However, a larger part of the talk was about her interests in botany and plant life. This first required  descriptions of the wide range of climatic conditions and habitats, from the mountain regions of the Himalayas, the arid desert regions, to the lush regions in the south. She described a wide range of plant types, their peculiarities and unexpected properties.

The talk was a fascinating account of India, and was warmly appreciated by the audience.

A Lane of Flies or Water?

Go south out of Fernhurst and you’ll pass a small lane off to the left just before the right hand bend at Cooksbridge. What’s it called?  There’s no sign to tell you. It’s not even mentioned on modern maps.

Older residents will know that it is Mig (or Miggs) Lane, once a popular haunt for courting couples. So who or what was Mig?

There are two possible answers. Walk up the lane from the main road and you’ll notice a small brook, a likely breeding place for biting insects. ‘Mig’ is an old Scandinavian folk name for mosquito (probably unnoticed by the courting couples). So the name could mean ‘A lane plagued by mosquitoes’.

A stronger contender is the Old English verb ‘migan’ (first person ic mig) which means ‘to water’. So Mig Lane could be ‘the lane by the flowing brook’.

What do you think?                             

Christine Maynard : Fernhurst Archives