Sunday, 3 June 2018

ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review

ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review: ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review : Essex Review (1892-1957) back issues. 30p each + P&P (see below). Final opportunity to b...

ESAH160: New Book Stock: 'Essex full of profitable thinges'...

ESAH160: New Book Stock: 'Essex full of profitable thinges'...: ESAH160: New Book Stock: 'Essex full of profitable thinges'... : Condition: New.   £2 each + P&P.  Final opportunity to buy Ken...

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Update regarding Blackmore Area Local History

Unfortunately it has not been possible of late to respond to the requests made by readers.  I have therefore made the decision to close the Contact Form rather than disappoint or appear rude.

Willingale Ring Saved and now On Display

Good news.  Epping Forest District Museum was able to secure the funding to buy the Willingale Ring.  It has just gone on display at Waltham Abbey:

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Epping Forest District Museum crowdfunding to buy Medieval Gold Ring found in Willingale

Save the Willingale Treasure!

Information from the Museum forwarded by the Essex Society for Archaeology and History.
Epping Forest District Museum has launched an appeal to save a medieval gold ring found in the parish of Willingale before the item goes on sale on the open market.
It is the first medieval gem set ring to be found in the district, and the first known finger-ring to be discovered in the parish of Willingale. The decoration is of an extremely high standard and, to the best of our knowledge, unique.
In total £11,500 is needed to acquire the ring and purchase a secure display case to house it, ensuring the ring  can be on free public display for generations to come. The campaign has already received support from the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and SHARE Museums East and Epping Forest District Museum has committed funding from its reserves leaving £3000 to be raised.
If the target’s reached the ring will go on public display in the museum’s newly renovated Core gallery, saving it for current and future residents to enjoy. The museum would also ensure the long term preservation of the ring making it widely available to the public through free exhibitions, inclusion in the school education programme, public talks as well as the ring being made available for loan and research.

If the funding is not raised, the ring may be sold on the open market and possibly leave the UK permanently.
About the ring

Recently unearthed by a metal detectorist the ring is thought to date from c.1200-1399 based on stylistic similarities with other rings of this date. The method of manufacture is typical of the period, but is a particularly fine example of application and techniques.

This very well preserved example of a medieval sapphire set finger ring would have been worn by a wealthy medieval nobleman. The maker of this item is unknown – there are no identification marks.  However the craftsmanship of the piece demonstrates great skill and technical ability, from which it is possible to infer that the goldsmith responsible was highly accomplished in their craft.

Jewellery at this time was increasingly used to signify rank, especially after the passing of the 1363 Acts of Apparel, which restricted the wearing of jewellery, especially that containing precious metal or gemstones to the highest and wealthiest social classes.

Goldsmiths were always highly regarded, but as gold became more easily available, and people wealthier, trade flourished and they prospered during the 14th Century.  This ring would allow this topic to be explored in more detail than the museum’s current collections allow.

Gemstones were thought to possess magical and medicinal powers in the medieval period - sapphires supposedly protecting chastity and uncovering deception, in addition to treating eye-ailments and hysteria, providing another area of investigation that would be enabled by the acquisition of this ring.

About Epping Forest District Museum

Epping Forest District Museum’s remit is to tell the human history of the Epping Forest District and is the only museum in the district that covers archaeology and social history acting as the archaeological depository for the area.

The museum holds a significant medieval collection, which is related to or was excavated from the Abbey of Waltham, including a 12th Century bible. Other secular examples of medieval precious metal at the museum are coin hoards; this would balance our interpretation, demonstrating the aesthetic appeal of gold and its more obvious financial uses. 

The collection also includes some costume accessories; this would be a valued addition to show jewellery of the medieval period, and the changes of fashion in precious metals and gem-cutting.
The ring will serve as a resource for the museum’s education programme, showing the themes of metalworking including: development of decorative styles and manufacturing techniques; wealth, power and status; craft guilds and companies; and fashion.

This will serve to spark interest in new areas of history and attract new audiences to the museum as well as giving the museum the opportunity to engage with colleagues and institutions on regional and national levels, increasing the profile of the district and the service.

To make a donation towards Epping Forest District Museum’s campaign please visit
If you would like to know more about our campaign please get in touch with the team at the museum on or 01992 716882.

Epping Forest District Museum
39-41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1EL
Opening times: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10am – 5pm
Twitter: @EFDMuseum  Facebook:

Thursday, 9 November 2017

ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review

ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review: Essex Review (1892-1957) back issues. 30p each + P&P (to be advised on application). The Essex Society for Archaeology and History...

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Fryerning: Church Tower Ascent, 3 June 2017

It has been many years since I climbed St Mary's Church tower at Fryerning.  The church was open today for visitors. Here are some photographs:
Fine brick embattled tower at Fryerning: 79 steps to top

Roses in June

Lichen at top of tower
View over Ingatestone to Tilehurst and Bacons Farm

Ingatestone Church nestling in the Wid valley. Very little of Ingatestone can be seen

View west towards Kelvedon Hatch

View west towards Brentwood on high ground

Parish Cemetery below Fryerning Church

Looking east at Fryerning Hall

Churchyard and lychgate below

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Car Park Immediately Next to Essex Record Office to Close

ESAH160: Car Park Immediately Next to Essex Record Office t...: Essex Record Office has informed by Chelmsford City Council that it will be closing their Wharf Road surface car park on Saturday 27  May ...

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Blackmore: Bus Service to Brentwood returns

IT'S OFFICIAL ... The 61 bus will be in full operation from January 3rd to replace the old 261 route linking the communities of Blackmore, Hook End, Wyatts Green, Doddinghurst, Pilgrims Hatch and Brentwood

Saturday, 31 December 2016

ESAH160: Lost Landscapes. Reconstructing Medieval Essex. Es...

ESAH160: Lost Landscapes. Reconstructing Medieval Essex. Es...: The Essex Record Office in partnership with the Essex Place Names Project and the Essex Society for Archaeology and History present a co...

Friday, 30 December 2016

ESAH160: Essex Journal. Autumn 2016. (Vol. 51. No. 2)

ESAH160: Essex Journal. Autumn 2016. (Vol. 51. No. 2): Includes an article on the Chelmsford Planning Survey and the development of the High Chelmer precinct after the Second World War.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

High Country History Group: Journal No. 62 (December 2016)

High Country History Group: Journal No. 62 (December 2016): The latest Journal of the High Country History Group contains the following items: - Greensted Hall, the Seat of Captain Budworth - ...

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

High Country History Group: Journal No. 61 (September 2016)

High Country History Group: Journal No. 61 (September 2016): The quarterly Journal of the High Country History Group contains the following items: - Green Man Public House, Toot Hill - an update -...

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

High Country History Group: Journal No. 60 (June 2016)

High Country History Group: Journal No. 60 (June 2016): The quarterly Journal of the High Country History Group contains the following: - The sad story of Mr Mikkish - World War II Airfiel...

Monday, 26 December 2016

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (Postscript)

In his 1985 letter the Revd. Montague Knott, on his retirement, wondered whether it would be his last Christmas letter.  His final Christmas letter on file was 1994 but be lived to the age of 100 passing away in 2006.  His funeral service was held at St Laurence Church, Blackmore.

In 1986 he wrote, from his new home in Ingatestone,”My beloved Blackmore and its people are only minutes away by car. My successor in the cure of souls in Blackmore and Stondon Massey is Martin Sellix, an able man, who, with his charming wife Pam, is making an impact. He is helped by John Fleetwood, a retired cleric, who formerly gave me such valuable help”.  The highlight of his year was a three-and-a-half week trip to the Republic of China, Hong Kong and Thailand.

Despite being an octogenarian, he still owned a car in 1987 which he described as “a must” for “filling in at different churches within a radius of 10-15 miles”. He continued to take baptisms, weddings and funerals “with great joy”. On 8th November he began to take responsibility for Fryerning parish during its interregnum with the parish service of Remembrance.   Of Blackmore, he reported, “My successor to the living at Blackmore is doing an excellent job. Blackmore has suffered severely recently through a cloudburst that caused a flash flood putting the village centre and the church under three feet of water [August]. The damage must run into tens of thousands of pounds. Only a week or so after we had the hurricane force winds which also did great damage to buildings and the trees [October]”.

In 1988 “Canon Hudson, who was Rector of Ingatestone when I moved to Blackmore in 1957, has announced his decision to retire from Ingatestone and Buttsbury on the Feast of St Edmund, 20th November. A decision has been made to create a team ministry of the parishes of Ingatestone, Buttsbury, Fryerning and Margaretting, with a team rector and an assistant priest. The Reverend Philip Coulton has had the care of a group of parishes in the Diocese of Lincoln and he to be made Priest in Charge of the four parishes until his assistant is found. Philip Coulton is coming to us in February next”.  He added that “Serving the congregation and parish of Fryerning has been a joy”.  Of Blackmore “Martin Sellix has been building up the congregation. From time to time I find myself back in Blackmore, generally visiting friends. The head teacher of the County Primary School, Mr Howard Jones, with whom I worked as Chairman of the Governers for a number of years, retired at the end of last term. … Peter Hunt, who was my Lay Reader for years at Blackmore, is moving to Ingatestone. It will be pleasant to see more of him and his wife Joy. … Peter was invited to become Pastor of the Baptist Congregation in Blackmore, which he has done.  It seems that both congregations in Blackmore are growing”.

In 1989, Montagu Knott reported that after a very short retirement, Canon Edward Hudson, “died of cancer and a service of thanksgiving was held on Monday 16th January last”.  Christopher Martin came to Fryerning and Margaretting to be Team Vicar, joining Philip Coulton, Team Rector at Ingatestone and Buttsbury.

By 1990 Montagu Knott regarded Fryerning as his own church for worship. “Speaking of parish churches, my successor as Vicar of Blackmore, Rev. Martin Sellix seems to be doing an excellent job. There was a flash flood which brought 3 feet of water into the church. Then later came wind damage to the roof which had to be re-tiled. The refurbishment has been costly but has been excellently carried out”.

More clergy changes were reported in the 1991 letter. Christopher Martin was moving in the New Year from Fryerning and Margaretting to the Diocese of St Albans. “The Church of England is having to reduce the number of its paid clergy”. Soon Mountnessing would be added to the overall charge of Philip Coulton.

1992: “I keep in touch with Sister Pamplin who nursed my dear wife in her last illness. We meet several times in the course of a year. Pam acts as deputy to the warden of a block of flats occupied by elderly people”.  At Fryerning, Revd. John D. Brown had been appointed incumbent for a period of five years.

In 1993 having passed his 88th birthday he wrote, “I have given up taking services. My memory lets me down. I am able to attend church locally on a regular basis and value the fellowship I receive”.  Of Blackmore, “From time to time I meet up with The Jericho 60+ Club, which I helped to found in Blackmore when I was Parish Priest. I try to join their day trips to places of interest as well as occasional visits to the club’s ordinary meetings. My friend Joan Hobbs, who is a leading light in Blackmore and Chair of the Jericho 60+ Club, also a founder member, keeps very active and kindly helps me to retain my links with the club”.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1985)

1 Wadham Close, Ingatestone, Essex. CM4 0DL

Dear Friend(s)

19  Christmas  85

The address above will be the first signification to many of the change in my situation.  For the last twenty-eight years my Christmas letter to relatives and friends has been written in the study in Blackmore Vicarage.  This comes to tell you that what I anticipated in last year’s letter has come about in a way that reveals to me God’s gracious provision and leads me to exclaim, as did the Psalmist, “The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” Psalm 16:6.  I resigned my incumbency of the United Benefice of Blackmore and Stondon Massey at midnight on the 2nd June and moved from the Vicarage into the pleasing bungalow in which I now live on 18th July.

The Churchwardens of the two parishes, who are responsible officers during an interregnum, and others, have done an excellent job in keeping things going well until the Rev. Martin Sellix, the newly appointed incumbent, is installed on the 17th January 1986.  I have met my successor on two occasions for a chat and feel that he will prove the right man for Blackmore and Stondon Massey.  My prayer has been and will continue to be, that Christ our Saviour will be glorified through priest and people of the United Benefice.

Moving out of Blackmore was a rather traumatic experience after twenty-eight years during which I saw the population grow from 1,500 to well over 4,000 and the character of its people change from rural to a largely commuter-belt type.  Stondon Massey has some 600 population but I have always felt close to Stondon and caring for its people over the last five years has been a special joy.  When a person surrenders his charge he is expected to keep out of his former parish while the new incumbent gets settled in, which is why I sought a home in Ingatestone where I’d be near enough for my Blackmore and Stondon friends to visit me without any real inconvenience. Especially as the four mile drive is a very pretty one.

Ingatestone calls itself a village.  It must be one of the largest in Essex.  It has excellent shopping facilities in a single high street. The neighbouring ecclesiastical parish of Fryerning is joined to make the civil parish of Ingatestone and Fryerning, with a population of 4423.  The surrounding countryside is unduloting and very pleasing to the eye. There are a good many largish houses around. We have the Anglo-European School and a primary school, also a church school. The first is a comprehensive school which came into being when we joined the Common Market. It has a very good name. Ingatestone Parish Church of St. Mary and Edmund, in the care of Canon Edward Hudson, is linked with the adjoining Parish Church of St. Mary, Buttsbury. Fryerning’s Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, in the care of the .Rev. John Gravelle is else linked with an adjoining parish, St. Margaret, Margaretting. It seems likely that I shall be asked to take services in all four churches. I have already done so at Ingatestone and Fryerning.

I live in a cul-de-sac of well-designed bungalows for pensioners. The neighbours I've met are charming. Each bungalow has a small turfed lawn in front with a centre path, to the front door. This opens into a passage with a good sized kitchen on the left. I have a nice outlook from the large window. A small but adequate bathroom opens on the right. At the end of the passage on the right is my bedroom-com-study with a largish window looking onto the garden. On the left of the bedroom in the lounge which again is roomy. Beside other gifts on my retirement, the two parishes presented me with cheques amounting to more than £1,300. I have spent the whole of it on equipping and beautifying my home so that wherever I look I have evidence of the love and care of my former parishioners. In many ways my life-style has not changed. I still rise at 5 a.m. or just: after, with half an hour at exercises and another in half hour at my devotions before bathing and breakfast.  Most days I get an hour’s walking around the pretty lanes; which spread in all directions. I have had the privilege of taking quite a number of services. This keeps me, metaphorically, on my knees and on my toes at the same time. I have also taken nine weddings but I am free from the stress of administration and the "Always available" commitment. I felt the time had come to retire before it became evident that the job was beyond me.  

By the time this letter comes into the hands of most of its readers I shall have passed into my 81st year and ninth decade. Even as I write, my mind is full of gratitude to God for my present well-being and the opportunity to serve him and my saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. During the weeks preceding my day of retirement different sections of the two communities marked the event with parties and presentations. I had a tremendous surprise at the Village Fayre Weekend in Blackmore to see my much loved, long-time friends, Bernie and Ruth Aldridge from Peterborough in Ontario, Canada, present. Bernie, as ever, busy with his camera. It was he who opened the way for me to introduce the work of the Gideons into this country.

Each year more and more friends of long standing are leaving this earthly life. A loss I feel keenly is that of Bishop A.W. Goodwin Hudson, who died in September. A godly and gifted man of many Christian interests to all of which he brought insight and sound judgement. As often as not he and his wife and I would meet for an over-night stay in Town.  We were born in the same year.

The succession of farewell occasions consequent upon my retirement have involved me in little speeches of appreciation and thanks for kindness shown, suitably apposite I hope. I do not know, whether or not this will be the last of my Christmas letters but I feel it is the point at which I should record my appreciation for the constant friendship, understanding support and helpful counsel received over many years from relatives and friends. I am grateful to you all, so may I indulge in another "little speech" with which to draw my letter to a close.

Reverting to my opening paragraph and the Psalmist's declaration 'Yea, I have a goodly heritage" what gladdened my heart during the period following my conversion in 1922 was the belief that, beside being a truly forgiven sinner, my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, had secured in addition to God's pardon, a rich heritage that would suffice for all eternity. Though my joy in that heritage has waxed and waned at times, my certainty of it never. The written testimony of the Holy Bible, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit and personal involvement in the service of Christ and his Church have built into my experience for 63 years a certainty that God, our Maker, can be known, in the Lord Jesus Christ, on a personal basis.  Clouds of fear and uncertainty are overshadowed so much of our world today that we do well to consider what the future holds when our physical bodies have served their turn and are laid aside and the spirit returns to our God who gave it being.  It is easy in a world that so engages our senses and to lose sight of the personal responsibility we have towards God.  Jesus said, “I tell you everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement”.  The Apostle Peter confirms this in a letter to the early Church when he writes of those who exclude God from their lives, saying, “They will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead”.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome and declared, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.  The restitution Christ made for our sins fully met the Father’s righteous claims against the sinner.  Moving into my 81st year I see my part as living with a sensitivity as regards sin that will keep me ready to repent of what is wrong in thought, word or deed and just as ready to receive the forgiveness that will enable me to enjoy my heavenly Father’s approval.  This is my prayer for all I know.

With my news I send you my affectionate regards and the wish that your Christmas will be a happy one and your New Year rich with blessings from our loving heavenly Father.

Montague H. Knott

Friday, 23 December 2016

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1983)

The Vicarage Blackmore Essex CM4 0RN

Dear Friends,

19 Christmas 83

Starting this 27th Christmas Letter from Blackmore Vicarage with last year's letter before me, the expression "Promise & Fulfilment" comes to mind. The promise of two months sabbatical leave for a visit to North America in 1983 had a wonderful fulfilment in August and September. Beginning in Ottawa on 2nd August I moved by car, plane, train and ferry all the way across Canada to Vancouver. Except in Ottawa, I passed from home to home and carry treasured memories of Bernie and Ruth Aldridge, Bill and Rosemary Rognvaldson, Herb and Hilda Wheally, Liz Miles and Rick Wilson, Tony and Joan Griffiths, and lastly, Logan and Lily Miles. All treated me with kind hospitality, each stay was memorable. A month in Canada was followed by a month in the States which ended with a stay on Long Island, New York as guest of Adrian and Christine Alley.

It proved no handicap not to have friends to contact in the States. My clerical collar brought many contacts. People were friendly and easy to talk to. A meeting of eyes and a smile led to a lovely meal with two charming ladies and a night tour of Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. A New Yorker met on a five day tour proved an engaging companion. We met again in New York before my flight home.

There is insufficient space in this letter even to outline the scenic wonders that met my eyes but the Rockies in Canada and the Grand Canyon in the States stand out as the most impressive. You can imagine my sense of gratitude to my parish for making this holiday possible and for raising £900 to cover the round trip air fare. Also for the way church officers and others cared for the parish during my absence. The major responsibility fell upon my good friend the Rev. John Fleetwood aided by Joan, his wife. In both Stondon Massey and Blackmore the congregations appreciated the ministry and pastoral care of this retired colleague who lives in Blackmore. Everything was in apple-pie order when I returned.

The Anglicans and Baptists continue to work together with young people. Staffing is a perennial problem. Our Baptist friends are putting a new floor into their church and meanwhile are holding their services in Blackmore Parish Church. A theological student is serving as a trainee pastor to the Baptists for a year before going to theological college. He is a welcome addition to the Baptist Team. The jointly held fortnightly prayer meeting is growing. The fortnightly bible study has become three house groups, which we hope will increase in number. The Mothers' Union is a small group but the Young Families Group is flourishing and now supports a monthly morning communion. Blackmore Wives has revived with an expressed desire to be church related. The Family Service each month is attended by the newly formed Scout Cub Troop as well as by the Brownies and Covenanters.

In May, my duties as official escort to Mrs Joan Hobbs while she was Chairman of Brentwood District Council, came to an end. I found it an interesting, instructive and rewarding experience and in some ways I miss it.

Because of my absence in North America I was not able to organise Gift Days in our two parishes but whilst I was away Blackmore held a Flower Festival featuring September Saints which was well attended and much appreciated. Days later Stondon Massey held its annual See Stondon Church Exhibition. Despite rainy periods the exhibition was well attended and the stalls well patronised. We are fortunate in having two such lovely 12th century churches as the Priory Church of St. Laurence and St. Peter & St. Paul in which to feature the occasions I have described. Mention of the three Christian communities in our united benefice is a reminder that distinctive traditions and firmly held convictions in respect of doctrine do not hinder a loving and mutually supportive relationship in the Church's outreach to the community.

That last word brings me naturally to speak of our two senior citizens clubs. One meeting at the Ex Servicemen's Club seems to be in danger of closing whilst the Jericho 60+ Club is a growing and going concern. Our Blackmore Primary School and the P.N.E.U. School at Stondon are going well. The Deputy Head at Blackmore is leaving to take up a Headship at Broxbourne so we shall need a replacement. The Blackmore Players continue-to entertain with three productions a year. The stage setting and acting seem to me of a high order. The Stondon Singers who specialise in the music of William Byrd have had an encouraging year. They were asked to sing Evensong in Ely Cathedral not long ago and their music was appreciated. The usual village events took place, the Village Fayre Weekend and the Bonfire & Fireworks Display on Guy Fawkes Day.

As I write these lines we are in the Autumn of the year. Trees are beginning to look threadbare and they picture to me the autumn of life. In two years time I shall move from being a septuagenarian to becoming an octogenarian. A number of people who were meaningful friends have surrendered their mortal lives during this year past and I feel the poorer and lonelier for their going. It has to be that way or it would signify that those friendships were not what friendship should be. One wonders whether our world is not itself in an autumn experience. There is so much that suggests decay, breakdown and a summer passed. At a human level and in the realm of the spirit our world is a battlefield. The cry on every hand is for peace. The Bible itself echoes the cry. Jeremiah accused the rulers of his people saying, "They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace, when there is no peace'." It is wonderful for the Christian who hears the voice of God when he reads the Bible and hears too, Jesus saying "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." World peace begins in heaven, in the heart of Jesus and on earth it begins in your heart and mine when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, lives there.

I began with the expression "Promise and Fulfilment". In the closing message of the Bible, the Revelation, the Lord Jesus makes a promise. "I will make a new heaven and a new earth." Patching up will not do. The old must be completely done away with. Something altogether new and free from the self-destructive elements of the old. It has begun already for those in whose experience the Christ has already established the "Kingdom of God within you". The promise is in process of being fulfilled but we look for a complete and unending fulfilment in a time still future, for our long-suffering Creator God is giving men time for a change of mind and an amendment of life. This letter will go to those who are dear to me by the ties of nature and friendship. Some may need to use the time given by God in his patience for such a change of mind, for such an amendment of life.

I send my affectionate regards and good wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Montague H. Knott 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1982)

The Vicarage
Essex CM4 0RN

Dear Friend(s)

19 Christmas 82 

A special interest attaches to this year's letter for more than one reason. It is not only the 26th from Blackmore Vicarage but it marks the year when I came to my 25th anniversary as Vicar of Blackmore Also it heralds a year when I hope to take an extended holiday in Canada and the U.S.A. In the late 40's and early 50's I visited North America a number of times and made friendships with a number of people. Friendships sustained through the post. Inevitably the passing years have seen the passing of a number of these erstwhile friends but some remain and I shall do my best to see them. Then, some of those I have married have crossed the Atlantic and settled and I hope to see them also.

On the 16th July, a little ahead of my 25th Anniversary date, the 25th, the Parish marked the occasion in a way that took me by surprise. They arranged a "This is your life" event in our fine Village Hall. The Rev. John Fleetwood, retired and living in Blackmore, took the part of Eamon Andrews and uncovered my life from birth and baptism to the present. People who had shared experiences in life with me over some fifty years were back stage to present themselves on cue. I was in an emotional whirl for days after and goodness knows what my parishioners thought as they learned what I'd been up to during my fifty two years before coming to Blackmore. The icing on the cake, so to speak, was the arrangement of a two months sabbatical holiday in August and September 1983 with a gift of £700 towards my travel.

One reason for this letter is to let you know that 1982 has been a year of grace for me. Our Lord Jesus has made himself increasingly precious. He has seen to it that I've had no idle moments and has blessed me with health to cope with parish and pastoral responsibilities. I suppose my years would mark me as in the autumn of life, although to me it feels like high summer, but my contemporaries are fewer and the year has brought the loss of quite a few parishioners I counted as my friends. Among the menfolk too many succumb to coronaries. I suppose that in our competitive world men are stressed in a way that women are not and so we have a number of widows with teenage children. These bereavements leave me with a real sense of personal loss. On the other hand there are newcomers who seem to settle in quickly and happily. I can understand this for ours is a happy community.

The Parish of Stondon Massey has been part of my spiritual charge for three years now and a rewarding experience it has been. The parish church of St. Peter & St. Paul is only half the size of the Priory Church of St. Laurence but has its own distinctive charm and the local interest seems to be growing. I feel myself loyally and ably supported by the congregation. As regards the Church of St. Laurence we miss the support we had previously from a number who have been touched by the charismatic movement and are attached to house groups. They come occasionally to services but we are denied their skills and regular support. We have accepted to the Alternative Services Book at Blackmore and are having each Sunday one service in the new rite and the other according to the Bcok of Common Prayer. Stondon Massey sticks to the Prayer Book.

In Youth Work numbers have declined somewhat and we have staffing problems. I speak of Blackmore. In Stondon we are considering how we might start a children's work. Accommodation and availability of time are the current obstacles. Some of those confirmed earlier in the year are coming more or less regularly to Holy Communion. A number were helped at a Down to Earth mission led by Eric Delve, in Brentwood, our district town. Now we are taking an interest in a mission to be held some twelve miles away, in Harlow, next Spring. This will be led by the Rev. Canon David Watson. Three of our young men have formed a group and are coming along very nicely. Some of the more conservative among our number would say noisily. A good many of our young people attended. holiday camps, the Aqua-Sports Camp at Marlow attracting the largest number. The Young Families Group is going well. We look on this as a seed bed for the Mothers' Union which, with the Women's Fellowship, grows slowly. Joint church prayer meetings are poorly attended but there is more support for the Bible Studies.

A memorable occasion was the Brentwood District Civic Service. Mrs. Jean Hobbs one of our parishioners is Chairmen of the Council and the custom is for the annual Civic Service to take place in the Chairman's own parish church. Joan and I lost our respective partners within a week of each other nearly thirteen years ago. I have been able to assist her during her during her year of office, as Official Escort. I have found the experience most interesting. It has added to our pleasure as a community that this year we have won the Essex Best Kept Village (Larger Villages) Trophy. Brentwood District is twinned with the Landkreis Roth in Bavaria. Joan led an official delegation to Roth last July and we go again in February to the Spalt Festival, The foregoing rather grew out of church activities and services. If I may touch again on our two churches both have need of repair. Things are further forward at St. Peter & St. Paul but at St. Laurence we are starting a new cycle of work following the architect's quinquennial inspection. For the first time in 800 years Blackmore church has a standpipe supplying mains water for flower arrangers and cleaning.

Turning to other parish interests, the County Primary School at Blackmore and the P.N.E.U. School at Stondon Massey are producing good results and I am happy for the entree I have to each. Our two clubs for senior citizens continue to flourish as do the Women's Institutes in both parishes. Our dramatic group, the Blackmore Players, are well supported. It is a continuing problem to find leaders for youth activities. The Brownies flourish but the Girl Guides have folded up. I hear there are moves to start a Cub-Scout Pack.

I cannot conclude that part of my Christmas Letter which is designed to report our "goings on" in the two parishes without paying tribute to my four churchwardens and two parochial church councils. They give me consistent support, especially Peter. Hunt my Lay Reader. Other individuals also give me great help. The Rev, John Fleetwood, already mentioned, is a gracious and helpful friend. Every week brings fresh evidence that I am lovingly and prayerfully supported by my parishioners. They put me greatly in their debt. Interaction, our bi-monthly newsletter, is a continuing link between parishioners and me.

Last year I picked out the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales as the most notable event of public interest. This year I think it must be the Falklands. The Government reacted to the occupation by the Argentines in a manner which expressed the general sentiment of the country. There was very real heroism and on both sides a regrettable loss of life. One feels the problem will not go away and the ambivalence of successive governments, irrespective of party, for the past quarter of a century undoubtedly led to this year's war.

This is being written on the day we commemorate the Saints of Essex. The Epistle at Holy Communion is taken from St. Paul's letter to Titus. Titus was exhorted to amend what was defective in the church, and the reason for so doing was that "The grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great Gad and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds!! I find we live in a subtle and insidious world system and only a day by day exposure of one's mind and life to the teaching and authority of the Holy Bible protects one against lowered standards and a remoteness from the presence of the Lord Jesus. The Apostle speaks of "Our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God & Saviour Jesus Christ". This blessed hope is viewed as of the future and it has sustained the Church for two thousand years but there is a sense in which our gracious Lord & Saviour will reveal his glory and came with his power into our personal experience day by day. When the Lord said the Kingdom of God is within you I believe he was referring to that area of our being where his rule remains supreme. We Christians have eternal life now. As St. John declares in his 1st Epistle "He that has the Son has life and he that has not the Son of God has not life. When we lay down our Christian service on earth we will be set free from those elements our unregenerate nature which hinder our full enjoyment of the life Christ gives. Our Lord's gift at the Holy Spirit to his Church was to enable individual Christians to enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom of God here and now and that in increasing measure. As the years go by I like to think of myself as in the ante chamber to the Throne Room of Heaven. We who call ourselves Christians ought to walk life's way in company with the Lard Jesus so that our transition from the earthly to the heavenly state does not seem a crossing of a great divide.

In sending my greetings and good wishes for Christmas and the New Year I would express the hope that news from you will tell me that 1982 has been a good year for you.

With affection,

Montague H. Knott