In March 2019, Fairwarp WI was contacted by university student Abbie La Rooy who was working on a project about how rural traditions evolve. As a result, Abbie worked with members of the WI to look into Fairwarp’s past and see if there was something that could be developed as a tradition. Well, you might say, you cannot invent a tradition but that is exactly what Brighton did with the contemporary British folk tradition ‘Burning of the Clocks’ which originated in 1993 and what Fairwarp has done with its Cricket and Croquet day and the carols around the Christmas tree on the green.
Abbie had conducted considerable research using Fairwarp village archives held at The Keep in Brighton. One of the things discovered was an article by Brian Hoath in an early Fairwarp Echo about Sussex Granite being found in Fairwarp. the granite is the result of the fossil shells of enormous numbers of tiny pond snails. As Brian says in his article: “It is interesting to speculate on the probably appearance of Fairwarp at the time when masses of shells were settling at the bottom of swamp areas covering much of the the Kent and Sussex Weald”.
This was the information that sparked our idea for Fairwarp’s own contemporary British folk tradition by celebrating the shells that make the Sussex Granite and the woodland creatures that live in the forest.