"The Chronicles of a Country Parish" - A village appraisal of Sulgrave published in 1995

(Back to Chapter 1 Index)

Farming plays a large part in the life of Sulgrave, as there are still a number of farm houses within the village, which is unusual today.

Visitors will find that Sulgrave has quite a few small farms of under 200 acres which, in today's modern agricultural climate is uncommon when one compares villages only a few miles away which are largley dominated by an estate of perhaps 1500 acres or more.

The names of the farms that can be found within the parish are as follows:

In the adjoining parish of Stuchbury a few more farms can be found which have land that borders or lies in the parish of Sulgrave. They are:

Note: *=Full working farms.

Land Use in the Parish of Sulgrave in 1991

From this list it can be judged that Sulgrave has a mixed farming practice, which is not uncommon for a village in the Midlands. A large variety of crops may be found. They are, with their uses:

All of the above crops have been grown within the past year (1992) in the parish, but due to encouragement by the E.E.C. the following crops are quite likely to be grown:

Of the farms in Sulgrave and Stuchbury three are dairy farms. Friesian cows are the most popular dairy breed, distinguished by being black and white. Dairy breeders are commonly introducing Holstein blood into their cows to improve the milking quality and quantity, and conformation of the cow. The Holstein originated from Canada; again this cow is black and white so identification of the two breeds is difficult. Cows in the dairy herd which are not used for breeding the followers (replacements) are usually sired by a beef breed so cattle of different colours will be seen. Other breeds of bull which may be found include Hereford, Charolais, Limousin and Belgian Blue.

Bill Henn making hay in the 1960s.

One of the farms in the parish has 'set-aside' the whole of its arable acreage; this is Sulgrave Farm and approximately 100 acres (40ha) is 'in set-aside'. A proportion of ground which is in set-aside has been sown with a special mixture of grass seed. When this is firmly established a wide range of finer grasses and possibly native flowers will be seen. To be encouraged to put a grass mixture down of this type a financial incentive is offered and, by accepting this, one also undertakes to allow the public right of access to walk the ground. The set-aside scheme was introduced by the E.E.C. a few years ago to encourage farmers to take out land that was in cereal production. When it was first introduced, the E.E.C. offered £80 per acre, but this has now been increased to £90 per acre. One effect of the earlier E.E.C. subsidies had been to encourage grain production on previously marginal land. This sadly in Sulgrave meant that many small fieds were turned into larger ones, by the grubbing out of hedges, which meant the loss of wildlife habitat. The increased us of sprays in grain production led to the reduction of wild grasses and meadow flowers, which were once part of the scene in a predominantly pastoral landscape.

There has been some replanting, not only of hedges, but also of small woodland areas, particularly on Sulgrave Farm. Again subsidies have had to be used to encourage this positive approach to maintaining the balance between agricultural production and the natural world.

Sulgrave has one pig unit on the edge of the village (1992). It comprises 30 Large White xWelsh sows. All progeny are reared to 'heavy cutter' weight (80/85kg liveweight). All pigs are housed on a traditional straw-based system. Feeding time can be heard around 8.10 am!

Roger Cherry's pigs

Land within the parish varies in type. At the Banbury end of the village soil is a limestone brash which is often stony, dries out easily and has a high fossil content. At the other ends of the parish towards Helmdon and Weston the land is a heavy loam/clay. As with a lot of this ground it is grassland, as arable crops are harder to establish.

See here for Field Names in the Parish