October on the Farm, 2020.

October 22nd, 2020

Autumn in the Sulgrave countryside

Richard Fonge writes:

We are now halfway through Autumn with the leaves just starting to show their different colours. The winter season doesn’t start till December arrives, so please ignore all those in the media especially, who seem to think otherwise. At this present time we need more stories that are uplifting and not a surfeit of doom and gloom. I think it’s significant that we have on our screens so many programmes relating to the countryside, because in general the bucolic scenes they depict show a way of life that we all find relaxing to watch.

The squirrels are busy gathering nuts to hideaway for the winter, but the albino squirrels seen down Manor Road and the area behind have not been seen of late.

The planting of winter cereals is well advanced, but some fields such as those up the concrete road look as if the new crop has germinated. In fact, what has happened is that the previous crop shed some of its corn when combined. It was delayed in harvesting by bad weather, so when harvested a lot of corn fell to the ground when cut. Those seeds have now germinated after the ground was cultivated. In time past the housewives of the village and their children would have gleaned the fields. To glean was to clear the field of any ears of grain left lying on the ground and to use them, depending on type, to feed the family or the chickens or the pig, both of which were so vital to the well being of the home. It can’t be stressed enough how important the allotment, the hens and especially the pig were to villagers’ well being. That was why the church and chapel harvest festival services were so important. When you live off the land, your appreciation of it and the vagaries of the seasons have a much greater significance.

We have around Sulgrave a great variety of hedges, the Saxon double hedge that defines the boundary between Sulgrave and Stuchbury, newer hedges that have been laid and grown again to form stock proof hedges and wildlife corridors, and those that are trimmed mechanically each year, and these too harbour so much wildlife and fruits. There are two good examples of skilled mechanical hedge trimming. The hedge on the left of the Magpie Road and those on the way to Hemdon past Stuchbury. Hedges were planted as a result of the Enclosure Act of 1773 and are a unique feature of the British countryside. Before the act, all land was common. Once enclosed by hedges, stone walls, ditches etc it came into private ownership and the English country scene of today was born.

Lark Rise  to Candleford by Flora Thompson is a wonderful account of rural life in the late nineteenth century. Lark Rise is the village of Juniper, south of Brackley and Candleford is Cottisford, it is thought.

Richard Fonge

HS2 (High Speed Rail) Update. Lower Thorpe and Edgcote Viaducts.

October 21st, 2020

Artist’s impression of the proposed Lower Thorpe Viaduct

See the HS2 Page on this website for the latest information regarding the two viaducts.

Sulgrave Village Shop Newsletter for October 2020

October 11th, 2020

Report on Parish Council Meeting held via Zoom Technology on Thursday 1st October 2020

October 5th, 2020

Richard Fonge, Chairman, reports as follows:

Discussion on the Twenty/Plenty signs which were agreed at the September meeting. In general, a favourable response. The Chairman thought it would be better if Councillors were contacted first rather than through social media when questions are asked about decisions made by the Parish Council.

The Chairman thanked Councillor North and Dominic North for the re-painting of the Helmdon Road sign and Councillor Mike Powell for doing the Spinners Cottages sign.

Nothing to report on High Speed Rail (HS2)

Sulgrave Manor. Now closed for the winter.

The Pop Up Picnic was cancelled due to the latest Covid 19 rules. The concept had gone down well with the village, so it was hoped to re-arrange the picnic for next May, pandemic permitting.

It was agreed to place a planter over the rut on the verge by Stockwell Lane.

County Highways had agreed to repair the pavement in Helmdon Road, but what section and length was queried. Parish Clerk to follow up.

The Vehicle Activated speed sign is due to go up in mid-October, on Helmdon Road.

The Pocket Park Annual Safety Report was discussed. Very comprehensive, but no action needed on any points. The shelter needs some attention to its roof. The long grass around the perimeter of the park to be cut when the final village mowing of the year is done.

Allotments: The Chairman asked for it to be minuted how well the allotments looked. Last year half of them had to be strimmed. This year they are cultivated, with only one vacant plot and that has been kept tidy.

The Parish Clerk reminded Councillors that there will be elections next May and thoughts should be given by early next year as to who was going to stand.

Date of next meeting: Thursday 5th November 2020.

Richard Fonge, Chairman.

Fund Raising for Brackley Community Hospital

September 27th, 2020

Jane holds the basket of tickets and Richard makes the draw

Richard Fonge writes:

Caryl Bellingham MBE, Chair of the Brackley Community Hospital Trust, has sent me a message to say that she and her fellow trustees would like to thank most sincerely the villagers of Sulgrave for their generosity in raising £695 towards the Hospital Appeal.

The total sum came from gift aid and the raffle organised by Sulgrave Village Shop for a food hamper, donated by the shop, won by Becky Hunt. Thank you Jane and Sally.

It was a great disappointment to have to cancel the picnic but let us hope we can do it next year and have a village get together.

Richard Fonge, Chairman, Sulgrave Parish Council


September on the Farm (2020)

September 17th, 2020

Texel rams on Castle Hill

Richard Fonge writes:

As I write these notes the harvesting of crops is now complete after a lovely hot spell. Although the harvest from the land is in general a poor one due to the very variable weather conditions of the last year, the hedge and tree fruits are abundant. Plenty of sloes for the gin, blackberries, apples, pears, plums to preserve for the winter and conkers for the children and to keep away spiders

It is three years since I started these notes, and September as I wrote then is seen as the farming years end. Michaelmas day the 25th September is the day when farms change hands, either in ownership or tenancy. The land ownership has changed over the years, as the industry itself has evolved to meet the needs and demands of an ever more discerning public.

The land to the east of Sulgrave to Weston is owned by an Oxford College. The colleges of our two oldest universities are still owners of many estates but not as much as they used to own. Stuchbury Manor Farm where I was brought up was owned by Balliol College, Oxford until it was sold with the rest of the Marston Estate in the late sixties. They had a great way of extracting the rent by giving the tenants dinner in college twice a year, with the Master of Balliol, Bursar and estates committee always present. A very civilised way of paying.

A crop which will not be seen so much nationally and therefore locally will be oil seed rape. The flea beetle the main pest to the crop since the banning of neonecotins has been hard to control, to such an extent that many farmers have not sown oil seed rape this year. Therefore I can see more beans and linseed being grown, to maintain a healthy rotation.

Sheep are very evident in the pastures around the village, and with a gestation period of 145 days it will soon be time to put the Rams in with the ewes for lambs to be born in early spring. The Suffolk ram with its black face was for many years the main crossing ram. Whilst still popular, the Charolais and Texel have superseded it as they can produce a great butcher’s lamb. Those eight young rams that have been grazing Castle Hill all summer are Texels and at some time this Autumn all their Christmas’s will come at once!

Richard Fonge

Brackley Community Hospital. Progress Report. September 2020.

September 13th, 2020

See here for a Progress Report by Caryl Billingham MBE, Chairman of Trustees.

Despite the cancellation of the Pop Up Picnic to have been held on Castle Green, the raffle to raise funds for the Brackley Community Hospital will still go ahead, with tickets being sold in the shop and the draw to take place on Saturday the 19th.

Pop Up Picnic Cancelled!

September 11th, 2020

Parish Council Announcement:

With the latest announcement from Government, the Parish Council have reluctantly decided to cancel the Pop up Picnic on Castle Green on the 19th of September. Although we can no longer meet up as village, I am glad to say the raffle to raise funds for the Brackley Community Hospital will still go ahead, with tickets being sold in the shop and the draw to take place on Saturday the 19th.  Also if you wish to donate, gift aid forms are available in the shop or by contacting [email protected].

So whilst our community has to wait to party, our help to our new Hospital can go ahead. A facility which is going to be a great asset to the wider community of Brackley and district.

Richard Fonge, Chairman, Sulgrave Parish Council

Sulgrave Produce Show 2020

September 9th, 2020

Despite the coronavirus, villagers came together as usual in September to display the fruits of their labours during the long weeks of lockdown. To minimise the risk of infection it was decided that the event should take place on the forecourt (aka the car park!) of the Church Hall where family groups could maintain social distances. Over one hundred exhibits were displayed and we were fortunate to be blessed with perfect late summer weather. A very happy atmosphere prevailed as neighbours greeted each other with the air of those  thankfully emerging, blinking in the sunshine, as from a long hibernation!

Photographs are presented in two groups, firstly some images of the event and secondly details of all the winning entries. See next page (Click on “Read the rest of this entry”)

Read the rest of this entry »

Notes of Parish Council Meeting held on Thursday 3rd September 2020.

September 7th, 2020

Click here to see the notes of the meeting on the Parish Council Latest News Page.