January on the farm (2023)

January 10th, 2023

RAF Camp at Greatworth – 1940s and 1950s

Richard Fonge writes:

The New Year has started with a lot of rain, thereby making the ground quite sodden. The winter corn is looking very healthy, and this is the time of year when the pigeons start to ravage the oilseed rape crops, hence the sound of the gas bangers to frighten them away. 

At the start of the year, there are certain dates to note . For a farmer the 25th of March is Lady day when rents are due, as is the 29th of September Michaelmas day. It is usual for farms to change ownership on these dates, more especially Michaelmas day. February 2nd is Candlemas day the 40th day after Christmas and the official end of that festival. But there is a wise saying. “Have half your hay on Candlemas day”. Meaning a stock Farmer should have half of his winter feed left on that day. Spring can be late quite often.

Other dates are: Jan 10th for the first aconites up the Moreton road, although this year I saw them out on the 8th. The first swallow 10th of April. 10th September for their flight back to Africa, and to many of us of country origin the 21st of December, the shortest day. Always so glad to get that past us and look forward to longer days.

HS2 is re shaping the countryside around us to put it politely, and one set of buildings that have been demolished recently have been on Greatworth Park, on the south side of the Welsh lane. Greatworth Park was once an R.A.F station, starting with a few Nissan huts during the Second World War , transmitting messages from Bletchley Park, and then until it’s closure in 1988 it played a vital part during the Cold War . There used to be wooden towers and steel masts in the surrounding fields. The buildings just demolished were built for the single servicemen originally, when conscription was in place complete with mess room etc. The married quarters were the row of houses as you enter Greatworth from Helmdon, with the C.O’s house the detached one.

I well remember many of those doing their National service coming up to the farm looking for work on their days off. Very handy at haymaking and harvest time in those days when most of the work was physical. 

The land up the concrete road was cultivated last autumn and left unsown, and large green patches can now be seen. This is a horrible weed called black grass and the reason why the land wasn’t sown. The farmer can now treat this spring before planting and try to get the better of a grass that reduces yields so much.

Have you ever wondered why a milking stool has only three legs?  It’s because the cow has the “udder”.

Richard Fonge


December 31st, 2022

Molly was a regular volunteer at the Village Shop fifteen years ago.

My wife Molly and I were married in Culworth Church in 1961 and so celebrated our Diamond Wedding Anniversary last year. We have spent our entire married life in various Sulgrave properties. Some of you will know that Molly was in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford for the whole of November, recovering from a lung cancer operation. I managed to make daily visits, often using the excellent “Park and Ride” facility. She has been home for the past month, during which time I have looked after her to the best of my ability. The 6.30 pm timing of the evening advent calendar window parties coincided with a busy time of evening medicines and dinner, so I was unable to attend or take the usual photographs for the website. However, members of the Sulgrave Camera Club filled the gap brilliantly and photos were provided and posted on the website every evening up to Tuesday 20th. I am particularly grateful to all who took part in this, which enabled me to feel that I was part of what has now become the traditional Sulgrave Advent Celebrations.

There was then a gap in uploading images of the nightly unveiling parties whilst we spent the Christmas period with our eldest daughter in Wiltshire. Upon our return, photographs of the remaining windows arrived as emails or through the letterbox on memory sticks. These have now been uploaded and so the Advent Calendar Windows records for 2022 are complete.

At this time of crisis for the NHS, I would like to record my thanks for the care extended to Molly by the excellent surgeons, doctors and nurses at the John Radcliffe in diagnosing and treating the cancer within five short weeks. 

Colin Wootton


Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No 24 – Village Bus Shelter

December 31st, 2022


Photographs by Tony Keatley:








Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No 23 – Old Wesleyan Chapel, Manor Road.

December 31st, 2022


Photographs by Tony Keatley:





Additional photograph by Jo Powell:


Click here and scan down to see and hear “Santa the Fiddler” perform in 2017

Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No 21 – The Old Vicarage

December 31st, 2022


Photographs by Jo Powell:




Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No. 22 – Swallow Cottage, Little Street

December 30th, 2022


Photographs by Tony Keatley:



Additional photographs by Jo Powell:



Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No 20 – The Old Forge, Church Street.

December 30th, 2022

Photographs by Graham Roberts:









Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No19 – The Cove, Manor Road.

December 20th, 2022

Photographs by Tony Keatley










Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No 17 – Bentley’s Farm Bungalow

December 18th, 2022

A great turnout last night for the window unveiling at Bentleys Farm Bungalow on Helmdon Road. Kym and Tony provided the obligatory and may I say, excellent mulled wine (think I’m becoming a bit of an expert!) along with hot sausages and sausage rolls before the traditional countdown. We were all impressed with the snowy mountain scene, showing penguins fishing, polar bears and elves. Suzanne Hanney


Photographs by Graham Roberts











Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – N0 16 – Wisteria Cottage, Helmdon Road

December 18th, 2022

Another very crisp and cold evening saw a great turnout at Wisteria Cottage on Helmdon Road last night. The tasty hot sausages and sausage rolls provided by Shrimp were very welcome indeed, particularly when washed down with hot mulled wine. In the spirit of Christmas cheer, even a passing tanker driver was offered some food, which was very happily accepted. No mulled wine for him though! After the traditional countdown, the window unveiling revealed a beautiful and wintry bird themed vista. Thanks to everyone who came along and threw money in the charity bucket. The total is totting up nicely – when I get a chance, I’ll post how much we have raised so far. Suzanne Hanney


Photographs by Graham Roberts






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