By Sophia Hunnisett
When my husband returned from a Parish Council meeting last year and shared a list of names that had been put forward for the roads of the latest housing development being planned in the village, I initially took little interest. It was only when he read them out, touching briefly on the context of some - names of historical figures of importance - that the pattern of the names struck me, and I felt something had to be addressed. Our village already has named tributes to men who made their mark in Hurstpierpoint, but what about the women?
It didn’t take me long to find the ‘Postcards of Hurstpierpoint’ books that my children took such interest in. I knew there were pictures of people in the village who had helped shape its history and, sure enough, in less than 10 minutes I had several names. Not only did these women contribute financially to the structure of the community but they were true philanthropists too: bequeathing valuable property to the aged, dedicating their lives to education, promoting women’s sports, devoting their energy to bringing children safely into the world and providing a safe haven for vulnerable members of society. And yet the names of these women have been largely buried in history. It was high time to honour them publicly. Why not, I thought, make a point of naming the roads of the new development after the women of Hurstpierpoint’s history?
Luckily the Parish Council fully supported the idea, and - with a bit of pressure - the Developer did too. Despite some arguments over the lengths of the new road names (the Parish Council insisted the full names of the women should be used, to make their gender clear) and a minor dispute over one name that the Developer felt would cause a problem for house-buyers (although living in Fanny Rowland Way would surely be a talking point rather than a repellent?!), the proposal was agreed. Not only will Spireswood Grange host the fist development dedicated to the women of Hurstpierpoint, but a special plaque in the estate will serve to inform the community of the remarkable contribution these women made to the village of which every resident is so proud.
I think this venture might go some small way to remind us that our community is, and always has been, shaped by a team of great men AND women. Since this decision, the Parish Council has agreed that all roads in new developments will be named after notable villagers – from the lowly street-cleaners who took pride in the appearance of the community, to the wealthy landowners and philanthropists who donated time, energy and resources to improve the lives of others.
(Extract from an article printed on page 22 of September 2016 Hurst Life magazine)