The Fernhurst Society
Newsletter no 18, February
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
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
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
If you would like to help or want to know more, please contact Julia via
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
- 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
- “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
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
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
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.
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
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
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.