January on the Farm (2019)

January 17th, 2019

Photograph by Colin Wootton from the early 1960s,  when villagers’ muscle power was needed in the fields (and steam powered trains still ran over the distant embankment!)

Richard Fonge writes:

January so far has been mild, with the winter crops around the village looking very forward, but there is plenty of time before spring for some proper winter weather of hard frosts and snow.

I mentioned last month the Food from our own resources White Paper of 1971. The sixties had seen great strides in the modernisation of Agriculture and the incentives laid down in this paper to produce healthy and plentiful food for the nation were taken up by the industry as a whole, so that within a dozen years or so we had milk lakes and grain mountains, which was to result in land being taken out of production and the introduction of environmental schemes. Milk yields from the dairy cow were improved by better understanding of nutrition and enhanced genetics with the importation of bull semen from North America. Crop yields improved dramatically by the scientists invention of the fungicide chemical in particular.

By applying this chemical twice during the growing season we were able to keep the leaf of the plant free of disease and therefore green allowing photosynthesis ( the action of sunlight on the green leaf) to take place more efficiently. We know this by keeping our roses free of disease how much better the blooms are for example. These and many other factors too numerous to mention in these brief notes, resulted in an Agriculture industry becoming more efficient in its use of land and labour, with farms becoming bigger and specialising more, which saw the demise of the smaller mixed farm.

These developments have made great changes in the make up of villages like Sulgrave. Forty years ago some 75% of our population were indigenous, with most families having a close connection to the land . Today that is nearer 5%. Although the make up of our community has changed so much, the sense of community is still as strong and vibrant. You could say we have gone from curing our own hams and growing our vegetables on the allotments, to croissants ,canapés and Chardonnay.

Richard Fonge

Schedule of Fish and Chips Van visits to Sulgrave in 2019.

January 15th, 2019

The Fish and Chips Van visits the village once a month, parking near to the Village Shop between 5.00 pm and 7.30 pm. The next visit will be on Saturday 19th January.

See here for a Schedule of proposed visits during 2019.

Grant Aid from HS2 Community and Environment Fund approved for Church Hall Improvements

January 8th, 2019

Outside the Church Hall on Village Produce Show Day, September 2011


The CEF fund was created: “…… to add benefit over and above committed mitigation and statutory compensation to communities along the route that are demonstrably disrupted by the construction of Phase One of HS2 from London to West Midlands.”

Sulgrave village has gained a grant of £75,000 from this fund to improve our Village Church Hall. This is the maximum for this type of application; it is under a scheme for ameliorating the disruption that, as a village close to HS2, Sulgrave might suffer. The news arrived a few days ago and the village team of many people who worked hard to assemble the bid for this grant, attended a celebration lunch.

When the possible grants were announced, Ingram Lloyd organized a comprehensive team of Sulgrave residents, who, together with the officer from Peterborough Diocese, had skills to put together the bid for this money.

Read more about the team on the next page. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry).

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Village Shop Newsletter for January 2019

January 6th, 2019

Click here to read a bigger version.


January 1st, 2019

I would like to add my thanks to all those who helped with the village website throughout the year, not least those who made possible the wonderfully imaginative and colourful Advent Calendar Windows – brilliant photographic opportunities on 24 successive nights in December.

Easy access to each of the website items featuring the windows and other events during the year will be available in a front page feature “Archive 2018” in the near future.


Colin Wootton

December on the farm (2018)

December 27th, 2018

Loading milk churns from a stand to a lorry

Richard Fonge writes:

December is the quietest month of the year on the land, with hedge cutting the only real activity going on. The one Farm enterprise that is very intensive this time of year is dairying, with all the cows inside . Have you ever wondered on your walks or travels around the area that a dairy cow is not to be seen. There are very few dairy herds left now in Northants, with the nearest to us at Stuchbury Manor Farm, my old home until the mid- seventies.
Up until the sixties most villages had two or three small herds of milking cows, and there is remaining evidence of them in Sulgrave. The old broken down cowshed at Rectory Farm. The concrete raised block opposite Fleet farm in Little street where the ten gallon milk churns would have been placed for collection. The remains of an old sliding door in Stockwell Lane opposite the Shop, which would have been the entrance to the dairy there. But the largest dairy herd was at Wemyss Farm off Park lane owned and run by the Cave family.
By the sixties it was no longer viable to milk a few cows along with other enterprises on a farm, and so we saw specialisation taking place in all forms of agriculture, encouraged by a Government white paper of 1971 which predicted a shortage of food by 1996. Larger dairy herds of at least eighty became the norm, and by the turn of the century this number had doubled and milk production was centred predominately in the western part of the country where the climate with its better grass growth in particular,made it more economical in what were very hard financial times.

With my very best wishes for the New Year.

Richard Fonge.

Village Advent Celebrations 2018. Christmas Eve. Church Cottage, Church Street.

December 25th, 2018

We reach the magical moment. 6.30 pm on Christmas Eve and the final window is unveiled. An evening of stillness, frost and a little mistiness – the world in waiting for the big day!

Final evening’s photographs on the next page. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry”)

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Village Advent Celebrations 2018. December 23rd. Carol Service at the Church.

December 23rd, 2018

3.00 pm on a wet Sunday afternoon but it’s nearly Christmas, there is a warm welcome within and there are many carols to be sung! The church is packed and some latecomers have to stand.

Photographs on the next page. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry”)

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Village Advent Celebrations 2018. December 22nd. Bell Cottage (formerly The Six Bells Inn).

December 22nd, 2018

A very fine and dry night. The narrow lane outside Bell Cottage is filled with people. Fortunately only one car runs the gauntlet during the party!

Pictures on the next page. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry”)

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Village Advent Celebrations 2018. December 21st. Wisteria Cottage, Helmdon Road.

December 22nd, 2018

The winter solstice and a full moon could be seen (until it rained again!)

Photographs on the next page. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry”)

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