Archive for 2021

November on the farm (2021)

Saturday, November 20th, 2021

Oak leaves in Autumn

Richard Fonge writes;

We are experiencing a very mild November, with the Autumn sown crops looking well along with the wonderful colours of the trees. The oak especially this year has a wonderful leaf colour, with no better example than those in Manor Rd.

Farmers have always tried new ideas of production providing it is based on sound husbandry and economic criteria. Today the challenge is to reduce carbon footprint, and around our area there are three examples in land cultivation to note. The ploughing of land has for centuries been the way to bury the the residue of the previous crop, but today minimum tillage and direct drilling are superseding the plough. Min till is practised up the concrete road, where the soil is moved by spring tine cultivators, whereas on Barrow hill and up the Helmdon Rd direct drilling is carried out. Ploughing and the subsequent cultivations use more machinery hours and fuel than the other two, with a reduction in yield in direct drilling often. Income may be less but if costs are down the profit margin may be better, with the added bonus of a reduced carbon footprint.

Beef in this country is mostly reared by the grazing of grass and the feeding of it in winter in the form of silage. The Emission figures quoted for beef are based on the feedlots of  the U.S.A. A British grass based system is half of that, so locally produced meat with a short journey from field to plate, is environmentally sound and keeps our pastures as they have been for many years a feature of our countryside.

With the mutilation of our countryside by HS2 works to the west of Sulgrave, it makes one more appreciative of the lovely walks still to be had on the other sides of the village. Whilst a railway was built through that land at the end of the nineteenth century, the landscape remains very much the same, created and cared for by those that farmed it, along with the country sports of hunting and shooting.

 Characters of the villages are fewer these days, but I remember Ernie Bayliss, who farmed with three brothers. His tweed cap was worn backwards to milk the cows, and then swivelled round with the peak forward for market days and best.

Richard Fonge.

Sulgrave Remembers. Armistice Day 2021.

Monday, November 15th, 2021

It will be recalled that last November the rules about indoor social gatherings prevented the holding of the annual Remembrance Sunday Service in the church. Led by the Parish Council, on Armistice Day, November 11th 2020, villagers gathered on Castle Green for an open air ceremony. This was well attended and many people expressed their gratitude to be able to pay their respects to the fallen as a community, albeit dispersed about the Green as the rules required.

It became apparent to the Parish Councillors that there was a groundswell of opinion in the village that this simple open air ceremony should be repeated on Armistice Day this year so that those who wished could stand together in silent remembrance at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month as tradition demands.

During my seventy years of attending such ceremonies all over the district it has always surprised me that Sulgrave never had an open air war memorial in a prominent village location. So it was that last Thursday morning our Great War “Tommy” silhouette was for the second time established on the Green as a focus of attention for the ceremony. It seems to me that we have rather belatedly established a precedent for holding an outdoor ceremony on every Armistice Day, with the traditional readings and the sounding of the last post, as most other villages have done for over a hundred years.

Fortunately, the pandemic regulations allowed the holding of the traditional Remembrance Sunday service in the church on Sunday 14th November to coincide with the national ceremony in Whitehall, when the names of the fallen on the memorial were read out.


The Sulgrave War Memorial plaque in the church.

See next page for more information and some photographs of the ceremony (Click on “Read the rest of this entry”)


Remembrance at Sulgrave, November 2021

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Donald Taylor on VE Day 2020

Sadly this year will see the end of the long established tradition of  ex service man Donald Taylor selling British Legion poppies around the village. As most people will know, Donald is now a permanent resident in a Care Home in Brackley. His friendly face will be much missed but please remember that you can buy your poppies at the village shop.

For those who wish to participate there is to be a short ceremony on Castle Green on Armistice Day, Thursday 11th November commencing shortly before 11.00 am. The Act of Remembrance is brief and non-religious and will follow the guidelines set out by the British Legion. The ceremony provides an opportunity to pay respects to those who serve on our behalf and have lost their lives or have life changing injuries as a consequence of conflicts.

Last Post will be sounded at 11.00 am prompt.

As a result of the pandemic last November it was not possible to hold the usual Remembrance Sunday Service in the church. Along with the rest of the country, this year a service will be held in the Church on Sunday November 14th at 10.30 am when wreathes will be laid and there will be a two minutes silence remembering those in Sulgrave who sacrificed their lives during two world wars.

Click here to access information posted on this website in November 2018 including the remarkable story of Donald Taylor and his Aunt Lilian who was an early member of the Women’s Royal Air Force in France in 1918 and who died as a result of the dreadful influenza epidemic at the end of the First World War. Her Commonwealth War Graves headstone is in Sulgrave Churchyard.

Those who have not seen it may also like to click here to read the stories of two “local heroes” and also those of all 18 of the men and women of the village who lost their lives in two world wars.


Sulgrave Village Shop Newsletter for November 2021

Friday, November 5th, 2021

October on the farm (2021)

Thursday, October 21st, 2021


Texel Ram

Richard Fonge writes:

The wonderful Autumn weather of the last few weeks has not only been good for us all to enjoy, but has allowed the Autumn sowing of crops to be completed in good time. With the soil moisture and temperature as they are, it has seen quick germination and establishment of the crops. A prime example being the barley sown on Barrow Hill and on the Moreton Rd, whilst nearer the village the oil seed rape sown in August is nearly too far forward. All seasons have their special aspects, but to me a misty autumnal morning takes some beating. 

The Texel Rams on the Stuchbury footpath have nearly completed their line of duty and lambs will be due in late February onwards.

A crop not grown a lot in this country is Lucerne or alfalfa as it is more commonly called across the world. It is a high protein crop, that like white clover makes its own nitrogen, through nodules on the roots. Multiple cuts can be taken through the growing season of either silage or hay. It is the main winter feed for cattle in the U.S.A after maize. In America maize is called corn, whereas here corn is wheat, barley etc. Can be confusing when with the Americans! I note this because a field of Lucerne has been planted on the right hand side up the Helmdon Road.

One of my first monthly notes nearly four years ago concerned ridge and furrow and I will return to the subject. The Saxons who were here for some six centuries until King Harold didn’t see eye to eye with William the Conqueror in 1066, were good farmers and cleared the land of forest, to grow their crops. A ridge and furrow are 220 yards long and it was thought the length one man could clear in a year. The width was a perch which was 5.5 yards. So the width of four ridges was 22 yards, therefore 220 x 22 = 4840 sq yards or an acre. 220 yards is a furlong, with eight of them making a mile. All horse races are measured in furlongs. 22 yards is a chain and the length of a cricket pitch. We may be officially metric, but land is still advertised and sold in acres. So from the Saxons came a lot of our measurements. The reason for the ridge and furrow was a ridge to grow the crop on and a dry area for the stock to lie on, with the shallow furrow to take the water.

Having just completed four years of these notes, I would like to thank all the landowners for keeping their footpaths in good order, as my regular walks along them give me the basic material for these notes.

Richard Fonge

More information on medieval land measurements can be found in an extract from the 1086 Domesday Book for Sulgrave posted on this website.

Sulgrave Village Church Hall – Completion of Re-furbishment Programme.

Sunday, October 17th, 2021

Project Leader Ingram Lloyd about to be interviewed by a Radio Northampton reporter

During my eighty years in the village and indeed, during my father’s ninety years, many attempts were made to provide Sulgrave with its own village hall. All were doomed to failure; the only available sites were too small; the access was unsuitable; there was not enough car parking; the location would be un-neighbourly in terms of noise. For many years the village school had to provide the venue for the dances and whist drives which were the staple entertainments before the universal ownership of television sets. There were stringent restrictions in respect of alcohol, behaviour and closing times. Smaller meetings were held in the Reading Room/Billiard Room, now the Community Shop.

In the early 1940s, the vicarage outbuildings included a barn like room containing a three quarter sized billiard table. The then vicar, Rev Pakenham-Walsh, was a saintly man; a former missionary in China. A request that village children should be allowed access to the room on a regular basis was granted, under the watchful eye of the Parochial Church Council. I remember it as being extremely cold, dirty, dark and unwelcoming. However, it was “better than nothing” and it had to be obliged to continue to be “better than nothing” for many years, gradually evolving into a sort of surrogate village hall. Various attempts at improvements were made, always causing controversy with half the community considering that the money should be saved for a proper hall and the other half, cynically but accurately knowing that nothing would come of such an initiative.

A kitchen and toilets were added in the seventies. As usual a good number of villagers provided the voluntary labour and an equal number considered the project a complete waste of time. However, with a great deal of muttering about “surely we can do better than this” it served for almost fifty more years of harvest suppers, produce shows and other social functions. For almost twenty years, photographs of these events have appeared on this website.

Then came the mixed blessing of HS2 High Speed Rail. The powers that be realised that little could be done to lessen the impact of such a massive project on a small rural community but perhaps the inhabitants could be somewhat placated by the grant of funds to one or more of their village projects from the “Community and Environment Fund”. The traditional controversy raged, sometimes quite bitterly. There were those who wanted no dealings with HS2 and their “30 pieces of silver”. Others seemed convinced that we should immediately start planning once more for the brand new village hall on the basis that HS2 would provide such a large sum only a further modest push would be needed. £75,000 was offered. Ten times that amount wouldn’t come near funding a new building. Wiser counsels prevailed on the basis that an awful lot of necessary improvements could be made to the church hall with this sum. “Let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth!”

The hall being in ecclesiastical ownership, church permission was sought and granted. Ingram Lloyd on behalf of the  Parochial Church Council became the project leader, supported by Anna Faure on behalf of the Parish Council. Together with other volunteers, several years of hard work on their parts followed, involving the drawing up of plans and specifications, obtaining the necessary consents, appointing contractors and supervising the works.

The old building needed a great deal of remedial work in terms of roofing, damp proofing, new flooring and insulation before thoughts could turn to modern toilets (including those for the disabled) and a brand spanking new kitchen. Eventually all these works were completed and Saturday 9th October declared to be the opening day. In advance of this, Radio Northampton sent a reporter to interview Ingram and Anna about the project and this was duly broadcast.

The much improved building is now “de facto” the “village hall”. However, in order to recognise that it remains a church building it is to be known as “Sulgrave Village Church Hall”.

A superb new dedicated website has been placed on the internet and can be seen at:

Sulgrave Village Hall

A permanent link to this will be placed on this village website.

A few pictures illustrating the project can be seen on the next page. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry”)



WARNING! Proposed road closures for HS2 works will create a dangerous situation at the B4525 Marston-St-Lawrence Junction

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

Between 25th October and 1st December 2021, the HS2 (High Speed Rail) Contractors propose to close the section of Banbury Road between the Magpie Junction and Bull’s Lane, Thorpe Mandeville, as shown on the above map.  Traffic using this road on the way to Banbury will need to follow the diversion shown on the map, turning right at the Marston-St-Lawrence junction on the B4525. This is already a dangerous junction with poor visibility where accidents have caused a number of fatalities. The thought of traffic queueing back towards the Magpie waiting for a safe moment to make the right turn on a foggy autumn morning does not bear thinking about. Clearly the only way to alleviate this situation would be to install temporary four way traffic lights at the junction for the duration of the road closure.

Alternatively, in a project with a very long construction programme such as HS2, it should be possible to re-schedule the sequence of works to complete the installation of the proposed changes to the Marston-St-Lawrence junction involving two new roundabouts BEFORE closing the Banbury Road.

This matter was discussed at the recent Parish Council meeting when it was agreed that these concerns and suggestions should be brought to the attention of the HS2 Management and Contractors without delay. If you wish to add your views to those of the Council, contact HS2 as follows:

Telephone: 08081 434 434 or email [email protected]


Monday, September 27th, 2021

The above officers are your point of contact for Sulgrave, which forms part of the Silverstone Beat consisting of the Silverstone race circuit and 43 other villages.


Please do not contact the team directly. All reports must go via the Force Control Room.

If you have any events or should you wish to discuss a particular issue, pass on information or meet a member of the team contact:

[email protected]


SGT 581 SIMONS – 07557 779041 – [email protected]

PC 911 CARTER – 07557 778579 – [email protected]

PC 801 MITCHELL – 07557 778536 – [email protected]

PCSO 7182 MORGAN – 07973 872805 – [email protected]


Northamptonshire Police

Fighting crime, protecting people.

September on the farm (2021)

Friday, September 17th, 2021

Haws. (The fruit of the whitethorn).

Richard Fonge writes:

September the beginning of Autumn and therefore the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness . With harvest behind us, the land is being cultivated for next years crops, with Oil seed rape growing vigorously up the Moreton road. To survive the winter the crop needs sowing in August . The flea beetle poses a major challenge right now, followed by pigeons later on in the winter. Gas bangers are used to scare them away, but  a hide, decoys and a gun can be very effective also, and pigeon is very tasty in a pie.

The fruits of the hedgerow are in abundance in late September. The blackthorn for the sloes to make gin. Crab apples for its jelly. Blackberries to go with cooking apples. Then there are the hips and haws. The hips are the fruit of the Wild rose from which can be made a syrup, the haws the fruit of the whitethorn and a winter feed for the birds. Whilst mentioning hedgerow species, an unwanted one is the elderberry as it is inclined to dominate and is useless in a stock fence, but from its flowers wine is made and my late mother used to make an ointment, which was marvellous for soothing chilblains and putting on chapped hands, an occupational hazard when you worked out in all weathers and milked cows.

This time of year brings the regular invasion of crane fly or daddy long legs . They can be seen in the grasses, and it’s grub called the leather jacket causes damage to newly sown crops and lawns in the autumn. Rooks feed off the leather jacket and we have plenty of rooks around the village, because of all the permanent pasture and the woods for them to make their rookeries in. You only see rooks where there is grassland to feed off. Therefore you have a small example of natures interdependence. Woods and spinneys provide a habitat for many species, with the rooks nests high up in the canopy. The pasture grazed by cattle and sheep provides us with beef and lamb, their dung feeds the rooks, who feed off the leather jacket and other pests such as wire worm.

There is much talk of living off the land, something that most rural villagers did till the modernisation of agriculture after the Second World War and the exodus of labour into the towns. The Church harvest festival meant so much then, because of this close connection to our food , and whether a Farmer or allotment holder, a poor harvest had consequences for the family budget.

Richard Fonge.

Report on Parish Council Meeting held at Marston-St-Lawrence Village Hall on 9th September 2021

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

See here for report on Parish Council Meeting held at Marston-St-Lawrence Village Hall on 9th September 2021 as set out in the “Parish Council Latest News” section of this website.