Sussex Landscapes

With an attendance of around 70 members Ferring Conservation Group welcomed Dr Geoffrey Mead to their October meeting (his second visit to the Group), this time to give a talk entitled ‘Sussex Landscapes’.

Dr Mead is an Associate Tutor with the Geography team at the University of Sussex. He specialises in the landscapes of SE England in both urban and rural areas. He did his doctorate in the suburban growth of the interwar period and is passionate about the Sussex landscape.

With illustrations and many photographs Dr Mead began by explaining that humans have greatly influenced the way our present landscape looks today and many post-industrial areas, although manmade, now have a natural appearance.

The oldest rock formations are found in the High Weald in the form of the Purbeck beds which were formed 140 million years ago. The High Weald gives way to the Low Weald which runs down to the Coastal Plain where the youngest rocks can be found and Newhaven beach is the only place layers of chalk can be viewed in the rock profile. Each area has its own soil type, distinctive landscape and vegetation which influenced the building materials used, from Purbeck stone in the High Weald to sandstone around the Ashdown Forest and Tonbridge Wells. Where there were large deposits of clay it provided suitable material for the production of bricks and tiles, also in addition around Horsham, stone was found in the form of slabs and this was extensively used for roofing in and around the town.

The South Downs provided an endless supply of chalk which was quarried and turned into cement. Gypsum was also produced from the chalk and used to produce plaster and other products. Nodules of flint were formed millions of years ago during the time when the chalk, produced from the remains of trillions of sea creatures, was used to construct many buildings and walls in villages on the South Downs. The Coastal Plain contains the youngest rocks and the soil is mostly brickearth, a grade 1 farming soil.

Nature Notes delivered by Graham Tuppen followed a welcome break for tea and an interesting photograph of a Knott Grass caterpillar that had been spotted in Graham’s garden was shown. This common black, white and red caterpillar feeds on a wide variety of herbaceous and are often seen during daylight hours. A Fox Moth caterpillar was also seen but with its brown hairs and shorter dark orange hairs on its upper surface was far less attractive in comparison. As in the past few years Graham kindly cleaned out the nest boxes that graced many trees throughout Ferring. Unfortunately a few contained dead chicks and eggs but interestingly one nest was found to contain yellow fluff from a tennis ball showing the resourcefulness of many birds. Poor Graham suffered many flea bites during this exercise and vowed to wear more protective clothing next year. It has been reported that sadly there are numerous bare areas on the Angmering Park Estate because of the clearance Ash Die Back wood.


Many types of fungi have been seen along the banks of the Rife, including Porcelain Fungus. A Sparrow hawk has been seen along with 21 Brent Geese in the area, and 34 Goldfinches had been counted in Graham’s garden although they had now disappeared. Graham warned that Asian Hornets are in the area and if spotted then for people to immediately contact a local beekeeper via the British Bee Keepers’ Association who are trained to trace and deal with Hornet’s nest.

To conclude the meeting Ed Miller gave news that the proposed detached house to be built in the garden of 1, Sea Drive had been refused by Arun DC.  A planning application to build a bungalow at the back of 1, Ocean Parade has been submitted.  Kingsley’s Coffee shop had applied to have its opening hours extended, plus an alcohol licence on and off the premises. Also Persimmon Homes have been granted leave to appeal the High Court’s decision on Chatsmore Farm also known as the Goring Gap.