‘Piety in Peril’
The work of the Churches Conservation Trust in Sussex
For our first meeting in 2015 we welcomed Dr Robert Hutchinson, a church archaeologist, who talked to us about the work of the Churches Conservation Trust in Sussex. He explained that the CCT is a registered charity established in 1969 by Parliament and the Church of England to look after the most important historic churches no longer needed for regular worship. CCT carry out between 40 to 80 repair and maintenance projects a year and have saved over 340 churches, 7 of which are in West Sussex. St Botolph’s Church stands on a slight rise above the river Adur and although today it appears almost isolated, 700 years ago it was at the heart of a busy port. Since Tudor times the church has served a tiny farming community. The parish united with Bramber in 1526.
Members then received a presentation by Julie Toben and architect Leeza Aldis-Hobbs on proposals for the new facility for WADARS at Hangleton Lane. Julie and Leeza explained that their plans were at a very early stage but they were keen to secure the support of our Conservation Group as their plans develop.
Ed Miller updated the meeting on planning issues although there were no developments on the issue of the Northern and Southern Gaps.
Eileen Godfrey announced that South Downs Film Makers were planning to make a film this year to commemorate the 1250th anniversary of a settlement in Ferring.
The meeting was concluded by news of wildlife sightings and dates for our diaries.
Amid some dark and gloomy days an unexpected break in the weather provided an ideal opportunity for members of Ferring Conservation Group to enjoy a walk on the South Downs around Burpham. Under a clear blue sky and with only a light breeze around 14 members set out in search of raptors and downland birds. We were soon rewarded when several Greylag geese together with Bewick swans were sighted on the plain foraging for food. A Buzzard with particularly dark brown plumage was spotted at the top of a tree surveying the scene.
As our walk progressed we were fortunate to also observe a Mistle thrush, some Linnets and Skylarks along with several Grey partridge whose numbers have increased significantly under the ‘Norfolk Estate recovery project’. As we headed back towards our starting point we were rewarded with the sight of six Buzzards circling in the distance and a hungry Kestrel hovering at the edge of a nearby field. As the sky darkened and the rain made its inevitable appearance the group promptly made its way to the lunchtime venue.
The next Group guided visit – this time to the Shoreham and Lancing area – will take place on Thursday 5th February, and will be led by member and experienced birdwatcher, John Dixon who will help us to identify a variety of coastal and river birds.
We’ll meet at 10.30am at the Harbour Way free car park on Shoreham Beach which looks across towards the Lifeboat Station (not the Fort car park, where you have to pay). There will be four separate parts to this visit – 1. Shoreham Harbour entrance ( as above) 2. Widewater lagoon, Lancing 3. Shoreham Airport and the River Adur 4. Cuckoo Corner (north of the A27 on the Botolphs road)
We’ll be moving between the 4 locations by car, so you’ll need to arrange a lift if you don’t have a car. Bring binoculars, and be sure to wear suitable clothing for the day, as the locations can be exposed to the weather.