FOUR picturesque and unspoilt villages nestle to the west of Chichester.
Funtington, East Ashling, West Ashling and neighbouring West Stoke comprise the parish of Funtington.
With an active parish council and plenty of spirited community groups, the parish is livelier than it might first appear.
Funtington is one of the larger villages in West Sussex, with more than 1,000 residents.
It is well-known locally for its pigs – it’s difficult to miss distinctive metal pigsties dotted through fields.
Tim Hoare, who has lived in Funtington for most of his life, runs Adsdean farm.
“We have been here over 60 years, with three generations working in the business,” he said. “We do the whole job here, from plough to plate, grow the food, rear the pigs, butcher, cure and smoke our own bacon.”
As well as pigs, the farm also runs a successful farm shop which has been open for 45 years.
Along with the local farm shops, which are popular with the locals, the village has successful local amenities.
Nick Sutherland runs the Funtington Larder, and popular village pub the Fox and Hounds with landlords Louise Genrey and Anthony Watson.
“We have been running the Fox and Hounds for three years,” said Nick.
“Since we have been there, the village has lost the convenience shop which closed down.
“It was a great loss so we decided it was important for people to get that back.”
Nick said he welcomed residents’ feedback on the new shop. “We are also really pleased to be having a post office coming next year.”
The shop caters for not only village residents, but also gives a good lunch for the farmers in the area.
Mary Quennell works in the Funtington Larder.
“I’ve lived in Funtington all my life – I’ve never known any different,” she said.
“It’s nice working among the local people.”
Beth Harries, like a number of the staff at the Fox and Hounds pub, lives in East Ashling. She said the shop and pub gave a ‘boost’ to community spirit.
The area also boasts other pubs, including East Ashling’s award-winning Richmond Arms near the scenic duck pond, and the Horse and Groom.
Richard Tassell is chairman of the Funtington and district village hall committee – a group which is working hard to promote the importance of community.
“A project is well under way, to create a new community centre near Funtington, to replace the existing village hall in West Ashling, which is nearing the end of its useful life,” said Mr Tassell.
“The promoters hope that public consultation will be under way soon.”
A smallholding in Funtington also brings a little something different to the community.
Dunreyth Alpacas is owned by Bruce and Peta Ives who keep around 40 of the woolly creatures. The husband and wife team take the animals for walks around the countryside.
“We get a lot of people coming in from outside the village – and all over the world,” said Peta Ives.
“Then they walk around the downs. We’ve had the alpacas for about seven years now – we wanted to make use of our land.”
There’s plenty of evidence of iron age man around the parish, from devil’s ditches at the eastern end of Funtington, and the area is also home to Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve.
The community has also been brought together with the use of a land-share scheme for allotments after seeing the idea on television.
Amanda Brooks, a resident who decided to let out some of her land, said the scheme had ‘brought the community closer together’.
“There is such a lovely atmosphere on the allotments, the people are such a social bunch,” she said.
Funtington Primary School educates many local children who play a big role in fundraising events such as Comic Relief.
The Funtington Players are renowned in the area for their amateur dramatic performances – the latest of which is John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps.