When a plastic bag full of notes was handed to Rob Ferguson at church, little did he know he would spend five years wading through the rich history of Broadwater.
He has compiled what he believes is the only full account of Broadwater in the book Placed for a Purpose - The History of Broadwater Church and its Parish.
At the launch at St Mary’s Church on Saturday, visitors learned about some of the history, which goes right back to the Middle Ages, and had the opportunity to buy copies of the book which were signed by the author.
Rob said: “It has become a history of the village, the area and the people who lived in it.
“The church was made into a place for the use of the village, not just those of Christian faith. It has always been a community place.”
This inclusive nature of the church led to Rob choosing the title Placed for a Purpose, because it was used in many different ways over the years including for law courts and community events.
Rob said: “The book shows how the church has adapted itself to meet the needs of the different eras. Seating has changed, use of the building has changed, ancient monuments have been moved.”
Rob has lived in Broadwater since 1974, and was a GP at Ball Tree Surgery in Sompting for 28 years before he retired.
He and his wife Ros have been part of the congregation at Broadwater Church for more than four decades.
Rob’s journey in writing this book led to unexpected discoveries, including the two tombs in the church, a witchcraft trial that took place and he even found out the church received a visit from Jane Austen when she was in the area.
With the help of graphic designer and friend Chris Lawther, the book has been self-published with lots of photographs showing old vicars and how the church has changed over the years.
Rob said: “I wanted to create a useful record but at the same time be fun to read. It’s like a Who Do You Think You Are? of Broadwater.”
This venture is Rob’s first foray into writing, and he said he has enjoyed learning the history and seeing where the research took the book’s direction.
He wanted to create a historical document which people could refer to, hoping that children in the area would be able to learn more about where they live.
Placed for a Purpose is now on sale for £15. For more information, or to request a copy, email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.