January on the Farm

January 18th, 2018

Winter aconites alongside the “gated” (or Moreton) Road.

Richard Fonge writes:

I always feel that January is a month that has very little going for it, especially this year with its many dank days. However there are two visible signs of new life. Hazel catkins are out and the first wild flower the small delicate Aconite can be seen beneath the Horse Chestnut as you leave the village up the gated road, and further up on the right side verge.
As very little happens on the farmland this month, I would like to draw your attention to two landscape features,many centuries apart.
Firstly the tramlines you will see running through the arable fields. They are made by the drill at sowing time. The tractor driver can set the drill to not sow down the relevant spouts at pre determined intervals. Usually every 24 metres, but those on the concrete road fields are at 32 metres. They are used as roadways for later arable operations,which I will write about in future letters.

Three “tramlines” through the fields next to the disused railway

The second feature are the ridge and furrow,still to be found in some grassland around the village,but the best examples in the area can be seen down either side of Blacklocks Hill on the way to Banbury. It was the Anglo Saxons who when they cleared the woodland,to farm the land did so by ploughing the land uphill to form a ridge.Crops grew on that ridge with the furrow a drainage channel. The length of each ridge was a furlong andthe distance between each ridge a perch. A furlong is 220yards, a perch 5.5 yards.

Ridge and Furrow in the fields between Sulgrave and Weston

So four perches equals one chain or 22 yards. Therefore one chain multiplied by one furlong equals one acre.
I mentioned that the chain measurement is still used in hedge laying in lasts month notes, well the furlong is of course still used in horse racing, As it is an eighth of a mile. We have races of 7 furlongs or a mile and three furlongs for example. There are two very plausible theories why the the measurement is a furlong. It was the length the oxen could plough before needing a breather, and the length a man could clear the woodland in a year,so he could start to cultivate and grow crops. The Saxons were very good farmers and worked in co-operation with each other, sharing the different soils between them.

Richard Fonge.

Sulgrave Manor in Silk

January 8th, 2018

Parish Councillor Neil Higginson writes:

Not a painting, not a photograph, this picture of Sulgrave Manor is woven in silk and has been in my family for over fifty years. So I knew about Sulgrave Manor and the Washington family since the age of about thirteen and living in the north west I never imagined I would eventually have a view of it from my bedroom window

The very fine weaving in this 3” X 6” picture was to showcase the skills of the silk weavers who worked at the Brocklehurst Whiston Mill in Macclesfield, Cheshire. They produced a large selection of images from Dickensian scenes to the coronation of our queen. This picture was the one I liked the most and it hung on my study wall for many years before moving here. 

Originally this picture was given to my father when he was a senior police officer in the Macclesfield area and I have sometimes wondered whether it was truly ethical for him the accept it. Viv and I chose to live in Sulgrave for family logistical reasons, now settled and enjoying it here but I reckon our silk picture had some kind of influence on us being here. 

Neil

Sulgrave Village Shop Newsletter for January 2018

January 1st, 2018

Christmas Eve! Advent Calendar Window No. 24. Church Cottage, Church Street.

December 25th, 2017

Appropriately, after 23 days through ice, snow, wind and rain (and a great deal of effort by all concerned) the Village Advent Calendar Expedition puts a man on the summit just in time for Christmas! More pictures in “rest of this entry”,

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Advent Calendar Window No. 23. The Chapel, Manor Road.

December 24th, 2017

The heavy plastic curtains over the porch to the former Methodist Chapel concealed a big surprise! More pictures in “rest of this entry”.

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Advent Calendar Window No. 22. Wisteria Cottage, Helmdon Road.

December 23rd, 2017

Having covered 21 of these lovely events, I was unavoidably absent from No. 22. Grateful thanks to Chris Behan and Hywel Lloyd for the photographs which can be seen by clicking on “rest of this entry”.

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A Christmas Message from Sulgrave Parish Council

December 22nd, 2017

Advert Calendar Window No. 21. 12 Spinners Cottages.

December 21st, 2017

December 21st. Winter Solstice and the weather is almost as temperate as at Summer Solstice. A window designed as a retrospective of past Advent Calendar Windows. See more in “rest of this entry”.

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Advent Calendar Window No. 20. Bengairn, Manor Road.

December 20th, 2017

December 20th. 8 degrees centigrade and compared to last week it feels as if spring has arrived. Certainly warm enough to melt a snowman! More photographs in “rest of this entry”.

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Advent Calendar Window No. 19. 14 Spinners Cottages.

December 19th, 2017

14 Spinners Cottages, next to the Community Shop, opposite the Stable Nativity Scene (also known as the Bus shelter!), where we began 18 days ago. More photographs in “rest of this entry”.

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