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

(Back to Chapter 1 Index)

English villages until the end of the fourteenth century were ruled by the Lord of the Manor, and most villages were considered to be his property. However, the lords were responsible for collecting taxes for the King and acting as Justices of the Peace.

After the Black Death in 1381 when large numbers of the population died labour became scarce and poor people gradually obtained a greater freedom to live and work in different places. By the reign of the Tudors the power of the nobility was greatly reduced. Each village came to have its own squire who acted with the village clergymen to administer the law. By making the local gentry her Justices of the Peace, Elizabeth I ensured not only that her political and ecclesiastical policy was carried out nationwide, but that all the functions of local government including the administration of petty justice, the Poor Law, the Statute of Artificers and the regulation of wages and prices were effective.

The Washingtons held a number of Manorial Courts covering all manner of such affairs, the records of which are held at the Manor House today. The JPs were servants of the Crown but not in its pay or dependence, and thus were able to understand and keep to the fore the needs of their neighbours, the gentry and common folk of the Parish.

However by Hanoverian times the rule of the squire magistrate was greatly abused leading to a call for a form of elective government.

In 1834 the New Poor Law grouped parishes into unions. As the parish remained the ecclesiastical unit for church purposes a split developed between the civil and church functions. The civil functions had grown haphazardly over the years with different bodies looking after the different aspects of parish life. By 1888 Sulgrave had six different parish authorities covering such matters as poor relief, sick relief, the roads, education, wages and law and order. Those shouldering the responsibility for the administration of these statutory duties included the vicar, the church wardens, the overseers and the vestry. Many parishes like Sulgrave were also covered by special acts of Parliament and ancient local customs. Sulgrave has its charities which have been administered since the eighteenth century and have benefited villagers in many ways.

In 1888 the Local Government Act established elected County Councils to administer the shires of England. By 1894 Urban and Rural District Councils had brought elective assemblies to parish level. Church and state affairs were thus separated. The civil affairs were ruled by the Parish Council and the church affairs by the Parochial Church Council.

The Parish Council of Sulgrave was formed in 1894 at an open meeting held in the 'National School' on 4th December. It was proposed by Arthur Tucker and seconded by John Waters, Junior that William J. Young be Chairman of the meeting. Thirty-five nominations were handed in, twenty-one were valid and were put to the meeting. By show of hands the following became the first democratically elected body to manage the affairs of Sulgrave in its thousand years of recorded history!

The first councillors were:

Arthur Fenimore
Arthur Tucker
George Wilcox
William Josheph Henn
Charles Tyrell
William Pryce-Seckington
John Waters Jnr.

It is of interest that four ladies were amongst the twenty-one villagers put forward for election.

The first meeting took place on 14th December 1894, when the only business transacted was the election of the Chairman, Mr. W.P. Seckington and the Vice-Chairman, Mr. W.J. Henn. Mr. Henn was also elected Clerk. Nr. F. Neal was elected Parish Constable.

The present Council (1992) is:

Mr. Rodney Henn, Chairman
Miss Emma Cave
Mr. Richard Marks
Mr. Sidney Wootton
Mr. John Sheppard, Vice-Chairman
Mr. Albert Cleaver
Mr. Kenneth Tattersall

Mrs. Carol Clark, Parish Clerk
Mr Patrick Flynn, Parish Clerk from Nov. 92

Elections are held every fourth year. Meetings are held every six weeks, the dates of which are posted on the notice board on the Parish Room (the old Reading Room). The public are invited to attend and there is always an open session for them to air any concerns.

An annual Parish Assembly is held each April with the chair of the Parish Council in charge when every villager is entitled to go along and have his or her say on any matter that concerns the Parish.

Early 1980s. Then members of the Parish Council, Harry Reynolds, Tom
Stallybrass and Emma Cave meet on site to discuss a planning application.



March 18th 1895 Resolution unanimously passed that "a railway station on the road leading from Helmdon to Sulgrave would be advantageous both to the Company and neighbourhood."
March 28th 1906 Resolution moved that the "Parish Council were desirous of having a Telegraphic Office for the Parish at Sulgrave".
May 1st 1907 Proposed that "a Sunday post be established for the Parish of Sulgrave".
December 29th 1910 The well in Great Street (Manor Road) was in a dangerous condition and the water unfit for drinking.
October 16th 1931 Parish Council expressed regret at the village being so disfigurd by electric light poles being erected.
July 18th 1933 Proposed that the Parish Council accept the offer of Col. Lester Reid to have the old Elizabethan Stocks re-erected on the Village Green.
October 13th 1933 Great shortage of water from Village Pump near Manor Tea Rooms.
August 17th 1934 Public meeting decided by 8 votes to 7 not to go onto a mains water supply.
September 11th 1934 Village pump near Manor House kept locked and water distributed twice daily.
September 30th 1934 Arrangements made to have a house-to-house collection of rubbish every three months.
1935 Copper Beech trees planted by Stocks to commemorate Jubilee.
September 14th 1936 Complaint about noise made by boys at night around the Jubilee seat - police asked to warn them.
August 5th 1937 Parish Council asked District Council not to proceed with water scheme as the cost of £3,000 was too much for a small village.
September 28th 1938 Gas masks to be purchased and given to all villagers over four years of age. Miss Moore asked to place herself and her car available for casualties. A telephone kiosk applied for.

Problems which arose at most meetings during these inter-war years:

Nothing changes!

May 5th 1945 VE Day Celebrations. Decided that as so many Servicemen were still in danger it would not be suitable to have a party. Arrangements were made for the bells to be rung and a special service to be held.
January 1st 1946 Post Office contacted to erect a telephone kiosk on the concrete block placed in readiness before the war.
May 15th 1946 V Day Celebrations. Unanimously decided that any celebrations should be funded voluntarily and not to increase the rates. A village tea was arranged with the support of the British Legion, Produce Club and Mothers Union.
April 17th 1947 Sanitary Inspector reported the village pump at Kiln Farm was contaminated and constituted a danger.
September 9th 1949 British Legion asked Parish Council to support a Village Hall Fund.
January 13th 1950 At a Parish Meeting it was agreed to apply for street lighting. Eventually 9 lights were in place on 21st June, 1951.
March 29th 1951 Village Hall Committee resurrected consisting of 2 members from each of: Church Council; Chapel; W.I.; P.C.C.; Mothers Union; Cricket Club; Billiard Club; Pig Club and British Legion.
June 18th 1951 Agreed to the building of 24 Council Houses off Manor Road, conditional on Mains Water supply being brought to the village.
December 13th 1951 30 miles per hour signs erected on roads into the Village.
May 5th 1953 Permission given to plant a tree on a plot of land by the village shop to commemorate the Coronation.
June 25th 1953 Hook Norton Brewery give a piece of land for a Vilage Hall at rear of Star Inn.
December 31st 1953 Manor Board donates £100 towards Village Hall Fund
December 7th 1961 Agreed that a cutting from the local Press be kept in the Minute Book giving details of the excavations at Castle Hill.
March 1st 1962 "Mr Mumford's Manure Heap"! - Agreed that a letter be sent pointing out the inconvenience and dangers to health of Tow Rise residents.
April 4th 1963 Permission given by Manor Board for the children of the village to use the small field near the Church as a playing field.
May 21st 1968 A letter from the Eveergreen Club stating it was closing down due to lack of support.
March 26th 1969 It was decided at an Open Meeting by 21 votes to 2 to oppose the siting of London's Third Airport at Silverstone.

Bill Henn planting a tree in the Village Pound
to celebrate 50 years service as a Parish and
District Councillor

June 6th 1969 Suggested putting lay-by at Spinners Cottages. Stocks repaired.
September 23rd 1970 W.I. plant trees and bulbs opposite Post Office to celebrate its Golden Jubilee.
May 10th 1971 Water laying in Helmdon road. Suggested a new drain be laid.
August 4th 1972 Council supports formation of South Northamptonshire District Council.
March 23rd 1974 W.I. offers to organise a "Best Kept Garden" competition. Manor Board gives a cup.
May 12th 1975 Bill Henn stands down as Chairman. Sid Wootton takes over. Council votes in favour of M40 motorway. Suggests Sulgrave be a Conservation Area.
August 8th 1975 Concern at the spread of Dutch Elm disease. Special Committee set up.
November 22nd 1976 Silver Jubilee Committee give mugs to all children below the age of 16. Balance of funds put towards Village Hall Fund.
April 3rd 1978 Branch of Age Concern started. Complaints about stray dogs!
march 13th 1979 At death of village postmistress - REading Room used as a temporary office on Wednesday afternoons.
April 14th 1980 Church Commissioner proposes to lease Church Hall to Parish Council for use as Village Hall. Village team wins NRCC Inter-Vilalge Quiz.
April 14th 1981 Car Park for Church Hall to be made plus a Kitchen in the Hall. Parish Council donates. £200.
June 29th 1981 All chidlren under 16 given a Royal Wedding Mug.
June 10th 1982 Refuse collection now only from kerb side. Lay-by outside Spinners Cottages again requested.
December 16th 1982 Grit bins placed at top of Stockwell Lane, Tow Rise and bottom of Helmdon Road.
March 17th 1983 During Waterworkers strike, water tested in Mill Pond and found perfectly safe to drink! Bill Henn to retire at the next election.
September 15th 1983 Request for play equipment in Tow Rise playing field.
May 24th 1984 Agreed to take over maintenance of Church Clock.
April 18th 1985 Agreed to combine with Housing Association to build old peoples homes on Village Hall land behind The Star.
May 2nd 1985 Agreed to put play equipment up in Tow Rise playing field and to pay for emergency lighting in Church Hall.
December 12th 1985 Agreed to tree planting plan in hedges.
May 1st 1986 Neighbourhood Watch Scheme proposed.
September 11th 1986 At heated open meeting, opinion was against the plan to improve village lighting by using orange sodium lights.
December 18th 1986 F.O.S.S. (Friends of Sulgrave School) agree to fund play equipment for proposed Pocket Park in Tow Rise playing field.
September 26th 1987 Water still laying at bottom of helmdon Road!
February 18th 1988 Agreed to replace street light time switches with photo-electric cells. All replacement street lights to be mercury vapour. Grants totalling £826 obtained for Pocket Park.
September 22nd 1988 Garden Society offers to plant spring bulbs round village. Council decided to take over grass mowing from the County Council.
May 2nd 1989 Suggested we have a quarterly Newsletter. Plea for villagers to use Village School not Private Schools as numbers were getting dangerously low.
February 8th 1990 School Rocking Horse purchased on behalf of village and placed in manor's Local History Museum.
April 28th 1991 George Metcalfe agrees to become Parish Tree Warden. Announced that the School was to close and the children sent to Culworth School.
August 13th 1991 Only one reply to Housing Need Survey, so Housing Project shelved.
November 7th 1991 Parish Footpath Booklet produced and all pathways marked.
April 16th 1992 Garden Society donates seat to the village.
November 11th 1992 Planning permission given for lay-by at Spinners Cottages!
May 5th 1993 Play equipment erected in Pocket Park. Maureen Jeffery offers to produce a monthly Newsletter.
May 13th 1993 Sub-Committee formed to run Pocket Park.
13th January 1994 Water still gathering at bottom of Helmdon Road! Joanne Gregory agrees to become Parish Footpath Warden.
7th April 1994 Lay-by actually completed outside Spinners Cottages
21st November 1994 Sulgrave Manor Board's revised Courtyard Development proposals given full backing of Parish Council after Public Meetings.
5th January 1995 Parish Council precepts for £5000 as it now has taken responsibility for Pocket Park Maintenance, the future of the Reading Room, Church Clock and supporting Parish Tree and Footpath Wardens.

Sidney Wootton (1912-2005), Parish Councillor for 45 years
and District Councillor for 20 years