Village feature: Fishbourne

Joining Forces The Sir Alex Rose Sea cadets and the Fishbourne Mill Morris dancers follow Zumba instructors' lead Samantha Bayley and Natalie owen (in front), during the Fishbourne Fete at Fisbourne CE Primary School.
Joining Forces The Sir Alex Rose Sea cadets and the Fishbourne Mill Morris dancers follow Zumba instructors' lead Samantha Bayley and Natalie owen (in front), during the Fishbourne Fete at Fisbourne CE Primary School.

DEMONSTRATED by its wealth of volunteers, home-grown societies and approachable villagers, Fishbourne is certainly ‘no stranger’ to community involvement.

ishbourne has grown in size over the past few years, but residents have worked hard to keep the close-knit feel of the community.

Volunteer Roman David Wilson leading his new recruits at the Roman Palace activity day.'''C121470-2 Chi halfterm Fishbourne  Photo Louise Adams

Volunteer Roman David Wilson leading his new recruits at the Roman Palace activity day.'''C121470-2 Chi halfterm Fishbourne Photo Louise Adams

Best-selling novelist Kate Mosse grew up in Fishbourne at a time when her parents were very much involved in village life.

In her foreword to The Fishbourne Book, Kate describes the Fishbourne of her childhood as being ‘a proper English village, large enough to suit all sorts, yet small enough to make you feel you belonged’.

Her father, Richard Mosse, was instrumental in setting up a parish council and her mother, Barbara Mosse, arranged the purchase of the land that was to become Fishbourne playing field.

Mrs Mosse opened Fishbourne Centre in 2010, after residents campaigned long and hard for a space which could serve the needs of the whole community.

Tony Harrison, who has been a village resident for 22 years, is chairman of the Fishbourne Centre.

“You could call it the hub of the community,” he said.

“The centre is open to everyone, you don’t have to be a member of a club. But it has lots going on in there – so many activities. It is a great facility to have in what isn’t a very small village.

“It helps people to get 
to know each other.”

Tony, who is also the village warden, is what villagers might described as a ‘serial volunteer’.

“Fishbourne has a nice community feel about it,” 
said Tony.

“I spend about ten hours a month going round the village, cleaning it up. I hate seeing litter dropped – it’s just a little bit of me.”

Other organisations were set up in response to needs expressed by the community.

Fishbourne Playing Field Association

The Fishbourne Playing Field Association was set 
up following a village meeting in 1969.

“After seven years of fundraising, the association had sufficient funds to buy 
18 acres of land which it 
holds on behalf of the village,” said Geoff Hand, chairman of Fishbourne Parish Council.

“Fishbourne is no stranger to community involvement.”

Parish council

The parish council has gone from strength to strength in recent years, working with the community and Fishbourne Roman Palace to come to an agreement over the Emperor Way cycleway and footpath which was under threat.

The council has also worked to open a children’s play area to help combat obesity in children and provide them with place to play and is currently making sure residents have a say in forming the village’s neighbourhood plan.

Residents support team

Joy and Alan Taylor, who run FiRST (Fishbourne Residents Support Team) work hard to make sure Fishbourne villagers stay part of the community.

“We want to make sure people aren’t facing the same four walls all the time,” said Joy, chairman of the group.

“We hold monthly 
meetings, coffee mornings and outings to make sure people aren’t lonely.

“When Fishbourne was smaller, we knew everyone living here. Then lots of new houses were built and we don’t know some of the new people. It is about reaching out to people in the village.”

Maggie Borsberry runs an active WI group, which brings women all over the community together for talks and social events.

Julie Pembery runs the twinning association – forging strong links with Langrune-sur-mer on the Normandy coast in France.

“The group had lapsed, but we’ve picked it up again and we’ve got some 45 members,” said Julie.

“We have been over to see our friends in France and they’ve come to see us. The primary school came over from France and spent a day with Fishbourne Primary School.”

The village is home to FIshbourne Roman Palace, attracting people from all over the country. Run by the Sussex Archeological Society, the palace boasts the largest Roman home in Britain and also recently opened newly-refurbished gardens to complement its amazing mosaics.