Operational Changes at Sulgrave Village Shop

March 26th, 2020

From next week the shop will no longer be offering a face-to-face service. It will become a hub for receiving telephone orders which will be made available for collection or delivery. A list of vulnerable/housebound villagers who will be eligible for delivery is presently being complied.
Click here to see a larger version of the above flyer.

Closure of Sulgrave Pocket Park

March 25th, 2020

Councillor Neil Higginson fixes the notice informing the public that owing to the Coronavirus Pandemic the Sulgrave Pocket Park will be closed until further notice.

This closure follows government instructions. The Parish Council is further  required to state that during the period of closure no safety checks will be carried out.

Richard Fonge. Chairman, Sulgrave Parish Council

Sulgrave Parish Council and the Coronavirus

March 18th, 2020

Richard Fonge as commentator at Kenilworth Agricultural Show

Sulgrave Parish Council Chairman Richard Fonge writes as follows:

“As we are all well aware the corona virus has impacted on all our lives. Therefore next months Annual Parish Meeting has been cancelled, along with the local elections on May 7th. When we meet again as a Council may not be till later in the summer.

Rest assured though, your Council members will be making sure that we will be doing our best to carry out our responsibilities.  If you wish to contact with a particular concern or thought, our names and telephone numbers can be found on the Parish notice board at the shop.

In these extraordinary and unprecedented times, we as a community have an obligation to make sure all our residents are cared for, and to that end a group of people have put their names forward to make sure nobody is forgotten. Not only to provide a shopping service, if need be, but also as a contact. Self isolating is going to be very lonely for many, so a phone call from a friend or neighbour from time to time is of great comfort.

My experience during the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001 as a member of a National Charity made me realise how important a chat on the phone was to those living on isolated farms or small communities.”


Richard Fonge: Home. 0129 768012.  Mobile. 07500672081

Jane Lockwood: Home. 01295 760865

Rose Shillito: Mobile: 07779149319

Shrimp Christy: Home. 01295 760214

Kate Miles: Home. 01295 760957. Mobile. 07970921110

Matt Aucote: Mobile. 07771605833

Anna Faure: Mobile. 07966884445


Richard Fonge.


Website Editor’s note:

It has been my privilege to edit this website for more than fifteen years. I have enjoyed photographing and reporting on countless village events illustrating what a vibrant community we are. The advent calendar windows come immediately to mind! It therefore comes as no surprise that the village is responding to the coronavirus crisis in a positive way. As set out in Richard Fonge’s statement above, particular concern is being taken to care for the elderly and vulnerable to ensure that no one is forgotten. As 80 year olds, Molly and I have decided our duty to the village in particular and society in general is to self-isolate as far as possible. However, I do not intend to let this very sad withdrawal from society interfere with editing this website. I will continue to publish information in respect of the village shop and post office, church, parish council, HS2, the Star Inn, diary of events, local weather forecast and so on as it becomes available. Contributions and comments are always welcome.

Colin Wootton

Summary of the Parish Council Meeting on Thursday 5th March, including details of South Northants Councillor Caryl Billingham’s presentation in respect of Brackley Community Hospital

March 2nd, 2020

Architect’s perspective of the new hospital

Click here to see the summary of the Parish Council Meeting and the Community Hospital Presentation.

Click here to learn more about the Brackley Community Hospital Trust:

Sulgrave Camera Club members choose their favourite photographs from 2019.

February 28th, 2020

“Rose in the City”. Just one of the photographs chosen by Sulgrave Camera Club members for display on the village website.

Click here to see more.

Visit the Sulgrave Camera Club Home Page.

February on the farm (2020)

February 13th, 2020


Market Day in Banbury. c 1890

Richard Fonge writes:

February continues to follow the pattern of this winter’s continual wet weather, with only hedge trimming being carried out in the fields around Sulgrave. As I have noted before the lack of crops sown is now becoming serious and could have consequences in the price of bread and breakfast cereals later in the year.

The field off the Helmdon Road on the Stuchbury footpath is stocked with some of last years female lambs (ewe lambs), these will be put to the ram next autumn to have their first lambs in the spring of 2021. With them are a few older sheep all with a purple mark on their shoulder. This denotes they were not pregnant when scanned for whatever reason. As a farmer and running a business, a decision has to be made to either give them a chance to breed again or sell for meat. Hard choices but sometimes sentiment has to be avoided.

Last month I looked back to the hard winter of 1963, and parking my car near to the Mill Arts Centre the other day reminded me of the many journeys in the early sixties of taking oats and barley by tractor and trailer in hessian bags to Lampreys still as it was then to be ground for animal feed and then returning with the previous consignment. It was a very busy mill supplying farmers in a wide radius of Banbury.

Banbury back then was a market town and remained so until the M40 came in the late eighties. It had the largest stock market in the country, with sales of stock on three or four days a week. It is amazing to think now that cattle would be driven through the streets of Grimsby to the fields up Overthorpe hill and back for sale at a later date. Steers of eighteen months or so of age arrived from Ireland on a monthly basis by ferry and train from Holyhead to Banbury and then sold on to be fattened on the good pastures of the area.

With all the many farmers coming to the market, there were five agricultural engineers and four corn merchants as I can remember, plus many other businesses catering for the agriculture industry.

So like Banbury the population of Sulgrave has changed, reflecting the change in the modernisation of the industry, with fewer needed to work the land.

The challenge to farmers and land managers today is to balance the environmental needs with food production whilst keeping a low carbon footprint.

Richard Fonge

Summary of Parish Council Meeting on Thursday 6th February 2020

February 9th, 2020

Click here for a Summary of the Parish Council Meeting held in the Church Hall on Thursday 6th February 2020.

Volunteers of all ages plant more trees at the Sulgrave Millenium Wood

January 29th, 2020

Janet Tattersall and members of her family with their newly planted oak tree.

In 1999, as one of several ways in which the village commemorated the dawn of a new millenium, a new wood was planted adjacent to the Pocket Park. This was made possible by the generous donation of the land by Janet Tattersall (on the right in the above photograph).  About 60 village families donated £5 each to sponsor a tree and on Sunday 27th February many of them assembled at the wood in order to plant their trees.

The Village Tree Warden at the time, George Metcalfe, was instrumental in this endeavour and he made a photographic record of the event. Click here to see these photographs and a map showing the location of the wood.

In the twenty years since that time, most of the trees have matured but a few have died.  The Parish Council decided that it was time for some replacement trees to be planted and called for volunteers to gather at the wood on Sunday 26th January. A considerable number did so and it was particularly pleasing to see so many youngsters.

More photographs on the next page. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry”).

Read the rest of this entry »

Church of St James the Less, Sulgrave, Spring update Jan 2020.

January 25th, 2020

PCC member Ingram Lloyd leaves the Church after the Christmas Carol Service 2019

The Parochial Church Council writes as follows:

Dear All

There are some major changes which will affect our Parish and hopefully this will bring all up to date. 

Brian Fairbank will be leaving our Parish at the end of January, his last service with us as our Vicar will be on Sunday February 2nd at 10.00.  We do hope that as many of you can attend to say “thank you” for his ministry during the seven years he has been with us and to wish him and Catherine well for the future.  He is not retiring until November and will continue to be Vicar of the remaining four churches. Brian and Nick Leggett, our new Vicar, will lead this service. 

Sulgrave will be leaving the Culworth group of six churches along with Thorpe Mandeville.  Both Sulgrave and Thorpe are joining the Chenderit benefice, which consists of Middleton Cheney, Chacombe, Greatworth, Marston St Lawrence, Thenford and Warkworth.  Thenford and Warkworth’s services are infrequent and are mainly during the lighter warmer summer months, all the other churches have regular services. https://allsaints-mc.church/benefice

While there are more churches in the group the team is larger.  The Rev Nick Leggett is our new Vicar.  Rev Carolyn Oley is our Associate priest.  Paul Franklin and Philip Ball are lay readers.  Chris Bazely is the Family Service Leader for Chacombe and Middleton Cheney.   https://allsaints-mc.church/our-team


The Chenderit Benefice would like to welcome us and invite us all to attend a “meet and greet” on Shrove Tuesday at 7.30pm at Middleton Church.  Pancakes may be involved!  Please contact any of the PCC if you would like a lift.

Service times are posted in the Church and on the South entrance.  Listed below are just two services of note.

Wednesday 26th February 7.30pm is the Imposition of Ashes service.  This will be a short service and Nick Leggett will be leading this.

Sunday 22nd March at 10.00am is the Mothering Sunday service.  Shrimp Christy will be leading this and it would be lovely to see as many families as possible attending this service.  


We are always seeking ways to increase the footfall in our beautiful country church.  If you would like to help in any way, as a one off, or on a regular basis we would love to hear from you.

In particular we are needing to increase our numbers of Readers for services and also help with flowers, cleaning and the Remembrance Garden. 

Parish Giving

We launched a Parish Giving Scheme in the Autumn.  This has been successful but we still need more people to contribute financially on a regular basis.  If you would like to donate but don’t want to give on a regular basis, we would able to fit in with your wishes.  All money given through this scheme is gift aided where possible.  The annual cost of keeping the church going is not less than £15,000. This is a considerable sum of money which is raised totally within Sulgrave.

If you can help or would like to know more about any of the points within this letter please contact any of the names below.

With many thanks from all Sulgrave PCC:

Jean Bates, Shrimp Christy, Andrew Dixon, Anne Dyde, Richard Fonge, Linda Harrison, Ingram Lloyd, Susie Mason, Julie Metcalfe, Kate Miles, John Stimpson, Margaret Watts.

January on the farm (2020)

January 16th, 2020

Snow clearing on the road to Helmdon. 1962/3 Winter.
Photo: Colin Wootton

Richard Fonge writes:

We are experiencing the wettest Autumn and Winter that I can remember, with the land at saturation point. Those of us who walk the footpaths will know how sodden the ground is, making walking that much harder. The consequences of all this rain has already had a serious impact on the sowing of crops nationwide as well as the lifting and picking of our horticulture crops.

The lambing season will start next month around our parish, and here again the land needs to dry up for the ewes and their lambs to be turned out to pasture, to prevent the land being churned up and muddied by their feet.

In the grass field behind Wemyss Farm, many molehills have appeared recently, showing a lovely fertile medium loam soil. This field with its ridge and furrow has been grass for centuries and has a great inherent fertility, as it has been stocked latterly with sheep, but for many years before that with dairy cows, both returning fertility to the soil with their dung.

I have been looking back at a diary I had to keep before going to Agricultural College, which covers the period from October 1962 to September 1963. What a contrast between the weather of that winter and this one. The first snow fell a week before Christmas, with hard frosts nightly, culminating in a tremendous blizzard on January the 19th which totally isolated our farm at Stuchbury for many weeks and cut off Sulgrave and most villages for a few days until they were dug out by hand, by teams of volunteers.

The drifts in some places were up to ten feet in height, but because of the severe frosts you could walk on the snow and not sink in. It was late February before it thawed, and it caused great difficulties. Groceries were fetched from Geatworth shop by tractor or by walking the footpath to Sulgrave Stores, who at that time used to deliver a fortnightly order to the farm. The milk from the dairy cows was sold in churns and it was two days before the Buckingham Co-op, our local dairy could collect by lorry. It really was an exceptionally hard winter to live through, with many indelible memories not least of which was to wake up every morning and go out to milk with the bedroom windows frosted up inside.

Enough of nostalgia, and let us look forward to a Spring that will hopefully redress the excesses of this winter.

Richard Fonge.

See here for more images of the aftermath of the 1963 blizzard.