Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Village Events for the Coronation Weekend – 6th and 7th May 2022

Tuesday, March 21st, 2023



Coronation Crafts and Activities for children ( and big kids!) on the afternoon of May 6th (time tbc).

Come and join us in creating “coronation themed” items – expect to get messy and have a little fun. Volunteers to support and help are welcome – please get in touch with Caroline Grant via Next Door messaging system.



are holding

This will be one of the many “big lunch” events being planned throughout the country for that day. You are invited to bring your own picnic lunch and tables will be provided. Families and friends are welcome. A 21 metre x 9 metre marquee will be in place.

A bar will be provided by the Star Inn. Teas and light refreshments will be available.

Children’s games in the afternoon, including skittles, “wellie wanging” and face painting. Cake making competition.

Craft Stalls, Demonstrations, Exhibitions and Entertainments area are also being organised.

Brackley and District Brass Band will play at intervals during the day.

Special Coronation mugs will be presented free to children under twelve. A limited number of these will also be available for purchase.

This event is being financially supported by the Parish Council but private sponsorship will be gratefully accepted. Please contact Council Chairman Richard Fonge on [email protected]. Further ideas for the day will also be welcome.


This is a chance for the whole village to come together to celebrate both the Coronation of King Charles III and enjoy the variety of talents and skills of villagers young and old.










March on the farm (2023)

Monday, March 13th, 2023

Richard Fonge writes:

With hopefully the last of the snow behind us, we can look forward to more spring like conditions, with warmth and sunshine and some much needed rain to counteract the very dry February.

Lambs are now being seen in the fields around the village. Vital for their survival is colostrum, which is the first milk of the ewe. Provided they have this milk in the first few hours after birth, (and most lambs will be up and suckling within the first hour) they will thrive. The milk is full of anti bodies and lines the stomach to retain body temperature, which combined with their coats allows them to withstand cold weather. Putting coats on them is a bit of a gimmick. It’s not practical for most farmers and if the ewe has been prepared for birth properly she will have the milk to rear her lambs. Late winter, early spring lambing is done indoors, with the ewes and lambs turned out at a few days old when the shepherd knows they are fit to do so. By late March/April, outside lambing is more common and in many ways more natural as the ewe finds her own place to lamb and there is not the risk of infection you get inside. One downside is the taking of lambs by the fox at birthing or soon after. A real problem at times.

Talking of the fox, it is always noticeable how much healthier the rural fox looks to the urban one. The former lives off grubs, rabbits (and there are plenty of those on our disused railway lines), pigeons, and your hens if they can. Natural food. The urban fox lives off scraps mostly from bins etc. 

The very smart fencing is now completed up Barrow hill, with new footpath gates, which will be much appreciated by all those that walk that path regularly. Now wait for the sheep to arrive to graze the new conservation pasture.

A true story of a very brave and determined man:

My parents moved to Stuchbury Manor Farm in the Autumn of 1947 and employed a youngster who was just short of his fifteenth birthday. Dennis had been evacuated from Balham in south London to a farm in Lancashire with his mother during the war, and he decided to make farming his career. He took a three month Y.M.C.A farming course at Stratford-upon-Avon and then placed with us.

He was in digs with a Mrs Wade, whose cottage was where the entrance to Mayfield is now. Between the Old Chapel and Apple Acre in Manor Road.

He walked to and from work every day, until he was called up to go in the army in 1951, where he opted to do a third year as he had passed his tests to join the parachute regiment. On demob he returned to the farm staying with us till 1973.

So when I take that footpath off the Helmdon road to Stuchbury, I often think of that fifteen year old boy walking up there in the dark in all weathers that first winter. What determination and resilience! You can see why he became a parachutist. 

To finish. Ernie Baylis, a local farming character, wore his cap backwards for work, and then turned it peak forward for best..

Richard Fonge.

Sulgrave Village Shop Newsletter March 2023

Sunday, February 26th, 2023

February on the farm (2023)

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

Aconites on Moreton Road

February filldyke is the saying, meaning it’s the month of rain filling up our ditches. This year we have had very little rain in February, with the ground relatively dry. Firm enough for some early spring operations with tractors to take place.

Early applications of nitrogen have been applied to some of the winter sown crops, and up the concrete road it looks to me that the black grass I noted last month has been sprayed with roundup. Those fields on both sides of the road were cultivated to form a “false seedbed” last autumn. This fine tilth of soil allowed a good germination of the black grass seeds. A good control of the grass now will allow the spring crop sown, whatever it might be, to grow without the competition of this weed which stifles the crop and reduces yield considerably.

Whilst on the subject of weed control, I would like to put into perspective, the use of sprays in agriculture, the industry that feeds us. Herbicides are used to control weeds so that the crop can grow without competition. Fungicides are used to keep the leaf clean of the many diseases that attack the plant. A clean green leaf allows photosynthesis to take place to an optimum, thereby producing a good fruit. Insecticides, contrary to many reports are only applied when absolutely necessary. The control of flea beetle in Oilseed rape being the main one.

I can assure one and all that Farm Assurance Schemes monitor the use of all these applications very diligently, and the cost per acre alone means that any spray is only used when needed.

On the top Stuchbury footpath an electric fence has been put up to hold a flock of sheep in. They are grazing the autumn sown grass down before maize is planted in April.

Sadly despite many reminders from farm organisations, sheep and cattle worrying by dogs is on the increase. As recently as last autumn a sheep in our parish was mauled to death. It is essential to have control of the dog at all times .

It is great to hear the woodpecker tapping away, and it is wondrous how the hole they make is so perfectly round. On another nature note, the aconites up the Moreton road are still in flower, some five weeks after first appearing. I am sure this is due to the many hard frosts we have had, making our winter weather as it should be. These successions of hard frosts do a great deal of good, especially to the earth. Take note of how easily the soil breaks down after being dug in the early winter.

Cold weather and outdoor work used to be a recipe for chilblains. An old and effective remedy was to make an ointment from the elderflower.

Richard Fonge

January on the farm (2023)

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

RAF Camp at Greatworth – 1940s and 1950s

Richard Fonge writes:

The New Year has started with a lot of rain, thereby making the ground quite sodden. The winter corn is looking very healthy, and this is the time of year when the pigeons start to ravage the oilseed rape crops, hence the sound of the gas bangers to frighten them away. 

At the start of the year, there are certain dates to note . For a farmer the 25th of March is Lady day when rents are due, as is the 29th of September Michaelmas day. It is usual for farms to change ownership on these dates, more especially Michaelmas day. February 2nd is Candlemas day the 40th day after Christmas and the official end of that festival. But there is a wise saying. “Have half your hay on Candlemas day”. Meaning a stock Farmer should have half of his winter feed left on that day. Spring can be late quite often.

Other dates are: Jan 10th for the first aconites up the Moreton road, although this year I saw them out on the 8th. The first swallow 10th of April. 10th September for their flight back to Africa, and to many of us of country origin the 21st of December, the shortest day. Always so glad to get that past us and look forward to longer days.

HS2 is re shaping the countryside around us to put it politely, and one set of buildings that have been demolished recently have been on Greatworth Park, on the south side of the Welsh lane. Greatworth Park was once an R.A.F station, starting with a few Nissan huts during the Second World War , transmitting messages from Bletchley Park, and then until it’s closure in 1988 it played a vital part during the Cold War . There used to be wooden towers and steel masts in the surrounding fields. The buildings just demolished were built for the single servicemen originally, when conscription was in place complete with mess room etc. The married quarters were the row of houses as you enter Greatworth from Helmdon, with the C.O’s house the detached one.

I well remember many of those doing their National service coming up to the farm looking for work on their days off. Very handy at haymaking and harvest time in those days when most of the work was physical. 

The land up the concrete road was cultivated last autumn and left unsown, and large green patches can now be seen. This is a horrible weed called black grass and the reason why the land wasn’t sown. The farmer can now treat this spring before planting and try to get the better of a grass that reduces yields so much.

Have you ever wondered why a milking stool has only three legs?  It’s because the cow has the “udder”.

Richard Fonge


Saturday, December 31st, 2022

Molly was a regular volunteer at the Village Shop fifteen years ago.

My wife Molly and I were married in Culworth Church in 1961 and so celebrated our Diamond Wedding Anniversary last year. We have spent our entire married life in various Sulgrave properties. Some of you will know that Molly was in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford for the whole of November, recovering from a lung cancer operation. I managed to make daily visits, often using the excellent “Park and Ride” facility. She has been home for the past month, during which time I have looked after her to the best of my ability. The 6.30 pm timing of the evening advent calendar window parties coincided with a busy time of evening medicines and dinner, so I was unable to attend or take the usual photographs for the website. However, members of the Sulgrave Camera Club filled the gap brilliantly and photos were provided and posted on the website every evening up to Tuesday 20th. I am particularly grateful to all who took part in this, which enabled me to feel that I was part of what has now become the traditional Sulgrave Advent Celebrations.

There was then a gap in uploading images of the nightly unveiling parties whilst we spent the Christmas period with our eldest daughter in Wiltshire. Upon our return, photographs of the remaining windows arrived as emails or through the letterbox on memory sticks. These have now been uploaded and so the Advent Calendar Windows records for 2022 are complete.

At this time of crisis for the NHS, I would like to record my thanks for the care extended to Molly by the excellent surgeons, doctors and nurses at the John Radcliffe in diagnosing and treating the cancer within five short weeks. 

Colin Wootton


Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No 24 – Village Bus Shelter

Saturday, December 31st, 2022


Photographs by Tony Keatley:








Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No 23 – Old Wesleyan Chapel, Manor Road.

Saturday, December 31st, 2022


Photographs by Tony Keatley:





Additional photograph by Jo Powell:


Click here and scan down to see and hear “Santa the Fiddler” perform in 2017

Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No 21 – The Old Vicarage

Saturday, December 31st, 2022


Photographs by Jo Powell:




Village Advent Calendar Windows 2022 – No. 22 – Swallow Cottage, Little Street

Friday, December 30th, 2022


Photographs by Tony Keatley:



Additional photographs by Jo Powell: