History and entertainment in the sunshine on Castle Green

In order to celebrate the proposed acquisition of the Castle Hill Scheduled Ancient Monument for the village and to raise funds for that purpose, a “Michaelmas Fair” was held on Castle Green on Saturday 29th September 2018. The weather was simply perfect, with bright sunshine from start to finish with a light breeze. Throughout the four and a half hours of the event, a continuous stream of villagers arrived to enjoy the traditional rural pastimes of bowling for a pig*, throwing the sheaf*, wanging the wellie, ferret racing and tractor rides for the children. A barbecue and a tent for teas and cakes provided the necessary sustenance. Drinks were also available from a bar organised by the Star Inn. A demonstration of wool spinning from sheep fleece using the traditional wheel and spindle, powered by a foot treadle, attracted much attention, as did the various knitted garments made from the wool. A further attraction was a wide range of seeds from the harvest, in containers allowing the seeds to be handled, always popular with the children. Also on display was a fascinating variety of old agricultural implements kindly loaned by Marton Museum of Bygones, Warwickshire and two vintage tractors. A cider press in use could also be seen, with samples of the finished product available. Visitors were entertained at regular intervals by live music from the village’s own “Donna and the Delleretts”.

The highlight of the morning session was the appearance of the Lord of the Manor, Lawrence Washington himself, to tell of the harvest in Tudor Times. Equally remarkable was the sight of the Saxon Thegn of Sulgrave himself, making his first visit for over a thousand years, leading the people up on to the mound which covers his one time prestigious wooden hall to tell of life before Ghilo de Pincquini and his followers arrived after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Full details of the history of the site, as derived from archaeological excavations in the 1960s and 1970s, could be seen on display boards in a small exhibition tent.

*As a youngster in the 1940s I attended many local fetes where one of the highlights would be bowling for a live pig – actually a small piglet which lay squealing in a hessian sack until triumphantly carried home over the shoulder by the winner. Farm workers in those days were adept at throwing sheaves of wheat high on to wagons or ricks at times of harvest and threshing (then a separate activity) and there was always fierce competition in this event. Sheaves are now nowhere to be seen and so in the photos which follow it will be noted that a sack of straw was used as a substitute. There were no wellies for wanging in those days since they were repeatedly repaired using bicycle puncture outfits until they fell apart.

The committee wishes to thank the many people who made this event such a success, including those who provided the excellent prizes for the draw.

Colin Wootton (Member of Castle Green Management Committee).

Photographs of this event can be seen by clicking on “read the rest of this entry”.




Ready for the ferret racing



Bowling commences


Looking for “a strike”?



The junior version





…..and bar


A variety of clothes, all made from wool…..


…..made on this spinning wheel


Deft fingers are needed, with hands operating independently of one another


Just a few of the beautiful skeins of wool made on the spinning wheel


Visitor reading about the history of the Castle Hill Scheduled Ancient Monument,including an extract from the Domesday Book


The full set of display panels


The cider press arrives……


…..and is set up in a secluded corner


“Here’s some I made earlier”


Sampled and approved


Committee member sells raffle tickets non-stop through the day



Exhibition of harvest seeds……



……explored by tiny hands


Delicious cakes and tea




Arrival of Lawrence Washington, Lord of the Manor of Sulgrave



Lawrence Washington tells of the harvest in Tudor times


…..including bread




An explanation of the importance of corn dollies in those days


Some fine examples


A vintage Fordson tractor, frequently seen leaving the village for ploughing matches


Ferguson tractor ready to take the children for rides


Safely in the trailer…..


…..and well supervised……


…..so their mums can relax!


A circuit of the field…..


…..on a real tractor, quite a novel experience!


They won’t be gone long…..



Ready for the ferret competition….those taking part choose a board with a number on it……


…..the ferret emerges at random from one of a number of exits, thus choosing the lucky winner



The ferret has fully to emerge from the tube for the winner to be declared




The hessian sack full of straw represents a sheaf




The Saxon Thegn appears on the earthwork covering his former Manor House……


…..telling of life before the Norman conquest


Photograph by John Sheppard




Sulgrave’s own “Donna and the Delleretts” play a request from the two groupies!


Click here to listen to Donna and the Delleretts




No Morris Sides could be found to perform on the day, but we had our line dancers!


Retired farmers



The music fades, the bar closes. It’s time to go home and still the September sun shines…..





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