Friday, 25 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1969)

Christmas 1969

19 - CHRISTMAS - 69

Dear Friends,

The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex.

Last year's Christmas Letter concluded with a post-script making it easy for recipients to remove themselves from our mailing list. It is a source of encouragement a pleasure to record that only a few have dropped out from total of nearly five hundred, and many wrote to ensure the they would continue to hear from us.

Reading again last year's letter leaves me with the impression that, in a number of areas, we seem to have little that is new to report. However, behind the scenes there is continuing activity. As regards the church, the organ was rebuilt and is giving great service and pleasure. No further work has been done in the church but we are so to carry out modifications to, and renewal of, fabric and furnishing which will add greatly to the charm and useful ness of our church. The celebrated wooden bell-tower is been further restored during the next stage of repairs.

Parish activities continue to thrive. The community has its Choral Society, Drama Group, Women's Institute, Social Committee and Sixty-Plus Club, in all of which members of the church take part and bring their influence to bear. The monthly Family Service and the monthly combined service of Evening Prayer and Baptism fill the church. The fortnightly Bible Study continues profitably and there is a marked advance in our outreach to the young. The group of keen young couples mentioned in last year's letter, have met had marked success in home meetings for Bible study but are strengthening the Baptist and Anglican churches with their active membership. They plan to build up the churches youth work within the framework of the Covenanter Movement. We have also started Guides and Brownies and hope that Scouts and Cubs will follow.

Highlight of the year now drawing to a close was the Flower Festival held over the second week-end in August. The Saturday was our Parish Gift Day and the Sunday our Patronal Festival. St. Laurence, to whom our church is dedicated, was a deacon in the church in Rome and was martyred during the third century. If the legend concerning him is true he was a man who counted his treasure in souls won for Christ and not in silver or gold. Our ancient church makes an ideal setting for a flower festival and this year's effort seemed to surpass previous festivals. It was so much more than a moving display of beautiful flowers and foliage, people were moved to a spirit of grateful worship and they came in their hundreds from within and without the parish. On each day Choral Evensong was followed by a music recital of impressive quality.

As regards the Anglican Church in this country and union with the Methodists, the will of the majority seems not so much to be no but not yet or, not in this way. We are now committed to Synodical Government and this is to be welcomed as tending to a greater lay participation. The 4 policy of a service of naming and blessing for the babes of those parents who desire their children to mark their entry into Christ's Church by baptism upon their own decision to become Christians, is getting slowly off the ground. Old traditions die hard.

Coming back to ourselves and the situation in the Vicarage, Miss Pamplin still brightens our home with her cheerful and practical presence. We anticipate that she will move to another sphere of service in the Nursing Profession before the year's end. The improved state of Hilda's health left Miss Pamplin free to take a post as ward sister in a nearby hospital, at the beginning of March. She has continued to reside with us and has been a tower of strength when off duty.

A year ago our doctor thought Hilda had reached the end of the road as far as her earthly pilgrimage was concerned but thanks to careful nursing and a strong constitution she has made a wonderful come-back. The lesser half! is greatl blessed both in the home and in the parish. It is good to feel oneself supported in one's work for our wonderful Lord by such splendid helpers as our congregation provides. I am sure we feel ourselves to be, as Scripture puts it, "Fellow workers together with God".

To conclude this letter, may I share a few thoughts concerning our present situation and future prospects as Christians, for Christ came to secure our best interests in respect of both. Our present must be causing thousands to reflect upon the future. Fundamentally man does not change. As always, he is born, he dies, he works, he plays, he love he hates, he rejoices, he sorrows. Man is ever learning and ever forgetting. He creates new situations and discovers new skills and in the process makes old the previous situations and forgets the skills they produced. Surely no situation has arisen before like that of this generation. Automation, the computer, space exploration and the uncovering of the deeps with television to bring these modern wonders to the eyes and ears of Jr. Everyman. Inevitably there must be concern for the future and speculation as to what it holds.

Is man of a stature spiritually and morally to carry such responsibilities? Will he overreach himself? Is there a danger that he could be a carrier of earth disease or that he could expose himself to hazards beyond his power to cure? Is privileged man cocooning himself with specialized foods, specialized medicines, hygiene, central heating, powered travel so that the withdrawal of these would leave him resistless to the conditions under which the underprivileged manage to support their existence. Have we been blowing a big beautiful and many-hued bubble which could burst or are we on the way to other and more remarkable situations? In our situation are we really living, with the prospect of a fuller life?

We are about to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ who said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly". The Bible states, "He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life". Life has its source and continuance in God who communicates it through his son, Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit. It is this life principle vivifying the spirit that makes a man a Christian. It relates to the present situation and the future prospect. This life has resources within itself that infuse the being with vigour, overcome the frailties to which man is heir, sustain his confidence through every vicissitude and keep bright his hope of life's extension beyond the grave where, the Bible says, "No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him". The Christian should be able to say - this I know, this I believe, this life I have. May this be your rich and all sufficient experience throughout the year to come.

Please accept this as a personal and grateful acknowledgement of a letter or greeting from you if I have not been able to write before. It has been a joy to have seen and had fellowship with friends from home and overseas during 1969. We rejoice in the ties that bind. God grant you joy and blessing this Christmastide and throughout 1970.

With affectionate greetings

Hilda and Montague H. Knott. 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1968)

Christmas 1968

19 - CHRISTMAS - 68

Dear Friends,

The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex.

Thinking of Christmas, I find it a great comfort to realise that our Saviour, Jesus Christ is a real person, whose birth is both accepted and attested. We live at a time when so much previously held Christian dogma is be in surrendered in face of the claims of rationalism, humanism and evolutionism. How good it is to read in Matthew's Gospel, "The birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. The record goes on to relate the time, place and manner o that birth.

As to time. Paul in his letter to the Galatian Christians writes, - "When the time had fully come, God’s forth his son, born of a woman". It was a time establish in the eternal purposes of God, long foretold, when it came Jesus was born. As to place. This too was by divine appointment. Where is Messiah to be born? asked Herod. Bethlehem, answered the chief priests. And so to Bethlehem (meaning Place of Food) he came and was born who said, "1 the bread of life", and again, "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst". As to manner.  Matthew's Gospel quotes Isaiah's prediction, "A virgin she conceive and bear a son". Luke's Gospel adds, "The virgin’s name was Mary   And the Angel said ..,.. you will conceive and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus.

Birth is the inevitable precursor of death for ever human. Only Jesus need not have died yet he chose to die and filled out the promise of his name - "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sin.  Let me remind you that we commemorate the human birth of Jesus who made possible our spiritual birth. That regeneration which makes us children of God and servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. With the Psalmist we say, Bless the Lord, O my soul'.

Before turning to local news I would comment on the preoccupations of the Church of England. The proposed union between the Anglican and Methodist Churches seems to be meeting with stiffening opposition in both camps. Government by Synod is on the way and could democratize the administration of the Church. The Pastoral Measure is quite revolutionary but applied with charity and wisdom, could make the Church pastorally more effective. A new policy on baptism envisages a growing practice of believers’ baptism, and a service of naming and blessing of infants taking the place of infant baptism where parents are not desirous of becoming regular church members.

The new series of orders of public services is provisional and experimental, nevertheless it meets a pressing need and is welcome as a constructive move in the direction of an agreed and settled replacement of the Book of Common Prayer, which has served us so well for so long a time.

In Blackmore more work has been done in the restoration of our ancient parish church. The domestic situation which has curtailed my own activities has opened the way for one of my churchwardens to do a splendid job in this department. The south dormer windows have been reglazed, the walls lime-washed, the ceiling shields and bosses are being restored. Our organ is being rebuilt and improved, and new pews are to be installed. The latest inspection reveals the need for urgent repairs to the walls of the tower. This last will be our next care.

We had no Flower Festival this year and for the second year running rain spoiled the Garden Fete. Nevertheless people rallied round and most of the items for sale were sold.  Once again the congregations of the Deanery of Ongar went from church to church throughout Lent and found blessing from the ministry and pleasure in mutual fellowship. Our Young Wives Fellowship now numbers around sixty and is thriving. The Junior Church has increased also. The Primary Section now meets in the Village Hall and the Juniors in the Church, as before. The fortnightly Bible Study continues steadily and the studies, taped, are she by some half dozen smaller groups in private houses. We have just concluded studies of the lives of Abraham, Ise Jacob and Joseph.

A happy fellowship continues between the friends at the Baptist Church and ourselves. In this connection the Holy Spirit seems to be pointing what may be a new way in this community. Several young couples recently moved into our parish, who are keen Christians, recognizing the organised religion lacks appeal for many are planning to meet people on their own home ground. To this end, after the pattern of Acts 6:4, a committed group has said, "We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word". It is hoped that a series of house meetings will lead to an extension of Christ's Kingdom.

I have constantly stressed the need for the Church identify with the local community in service. I feel I fairly say that ours is a happy one and well integrated. I believe Christ's servants have had a constructive part in creating this situation. Our new village hall is most impressive and will be ready for occupation before Christmas. The Committee responsible has done excellent job. The Donkey Derby they organised again this year was a great success. The Parish Council is negotiating for a village sports field and play area. An urgent need with our enlarged population. Our new Primary School is to be enlarged to cater for an increasing intake. The Blackmore Charities continue to assist older parishioners and the distribution of Christmas Gifts to this group is always appreciated.

The year under review has brought us great testing & and great blessing. Hilda, whose health deteriorated in second half of last year, did not improve with the coming this. Whilst away for a few days with a clerical friend at the beginning of July I learned that my dear one was in hospital. After a week or so Hilda returned to the friend with whom she had been staying and a week later came home. This was made possible because God sent a dear Christian nurse, Miss Pamplin, into our home. She has been a tower of strength in every way to Hilda and to me. We say from our hearts:-

How good is the God we adore, Our faithful unchangeable friend! His love is as great as his power, And knows neither measure nor end!

Our good wishes for Christmas and the New Year accompany our affectionate greetings.

Hilda and Montague H. Knott.

P.S. Our Christmas Letter has been sent year by year to those we believe to be interested in us and in our Christian ministry. With the passage of time and other changes, which affect us all, we have no right to assume a continuing interest. Therefore receipt of an acknowledgement or a greetings card will be taken as indicating that you would like to be on our mailing list for 1969.


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1967)

Christmas 1967

19 - CHRISTMAS - 67

Dear Friends,

The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex.

As is usual with our annual Christmas Letter we sit awhile and cogitate seeking some inspiration for the opening lines. It is our custom to compose the letter in October in time for copies to reach overseas destinations in time for Christmas by surface mail. This is written on the second day of December so it will be airmail for some.

All this year we have been trying to catch up. From early February till the end of April I was out of action through a slipped disc and Hilda has found life a real struggle. Nevertheless our times of testing have allowed us to see how wonderfully God has provided through our friends both in and out of the parish.

Last year we wrote of the changing face of our parish and the change continues as regards buildings and newcomers. In some respects however it has been a stand-still year. Nothing more has been done in respect of the restoration of our ancient church, although things are on the move now. We still have only two out of five new classrooms and ancilliary buildings of our new primary school. This seems to have resulted from "the Squeeze". Neither have we been able to start the new village hall, possibly for the same reason.

Church life in the parish continues largely as usual. Our parish magazine "Friends" is delivered to each home as far as we can ensure this. We hope the majority are read. This gives me a chance to minister through the printed page. We hold a baptism service each month. Usually the church is comfortably full. This, and the monthly family service, affords me the best opportunities for the ministry of the Word. Otherwise, whilst our services are better attended than in many country churches, the size of the congregations prove that the worship of God and the ministry of his word have little appeal to the majority. A highlight of the year was the holding of Deanery Lent Services in a different church each week. Large congregations gathered to hear the Diocesan, Bishop John Tiarks who preached on each occasion.

For the first time in ten years our Garden Fete, held at Jericho Priory in June, was marred by incessant rain. Over the August Bank Holiday large numbers attended the Flower Festival during which friends presented a delightful concert of chamber music. In church was a display of kneelers which a group of our talented ladies are embroidering. The harvest services and supper were joyous occasions in their turn and our year will close over a new ecclesiastical year already begun with the Seasons of Advent and Christmas.

While in some respects the cycle of events seems unchanging one may discern shadows of a sombre hue creeping over the events of our time. It makes news that China is catching up in the nuclear missile race. Vietnam has agonised through a generation of warfare that has achieved nothing but loss of life and material impoverishment. Rich nations have problems as numerous and complex as nations that are poor. A massive unrest seems to grip the world and escape seems not to lie in either wealth or poverty, strength or weakness, health or sickness, wisdom or folly, youth or old age. Yet as the same sea will rage where tossed by the tempest and at the same time lie placid in some sheltered inlet so in the sea of humanity, tossed by the exingencies of our time, will be found those restful souls who pursue an untroubled course.

The Prophet Jeremiah was given a word to his people from God which points the way to a state of rest - "Stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it and find rest for your souls." This is an invitation to look to past experiences and note that righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. As with nations so with individuals. The person who fails to take note of the good way which has trodden by men of worth from ancient times, will find no in this restless world. The Prophet links a state of real with the good way.

God the Son, whose birth into this world as Jesus, Babe of Bethlehem, we commemorate at the Season of Christ declared - "I am the way", "learn from me   and you will find rest for your souls." This is our prayer for : that over this Christmastide and through the corning year may enjoy the rest that stems from God Eternal, by the 'of the Holy Spirit over your mind and heart, and by walking in that good way that leads to fullness in Christ.

In sending our affectionate greetings we express the hope that the season of joy and goodwill which prompts this letter to you will also stir you to send your news to us.

Hilda and Montague H. Knott.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1966)

Christmas 1966

The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex.

19 - CHRISTMAS - 66

Dear Friend,

Having taken pen in hand to compose this tenth Christmas Letter from Blackmore, one pauses to reflect -the fire of memory burns brighter and in its flames one sees faces and places, some near, some far. How good it would be to sit alongside and ask: How are you? How have you fared through 1966? We can learn only as we hear from you so we would encourage your communication by sending you news of our own affairs.

The face of our village is changing. The rash of new buildings which, in recent years, has been so evident in the Hook End and Paslow Common areas of the parish, is now very evident in the village itself. More than half of the bungalows and houses are less than ten years old and many less than two. The growing population puts pressure on our school facilities and at long last a new school is in building with the first stage almost completed. We are well on the way to a new village hall. The land has been donated and planning permission given.

We now have a Blackmore Choral Society which is conducted by the Headmaster of our local primary school. The Society sang Stainer's Crucifixion in the parish church on Good Friday evening. This was much appreciated by a company which filled the church. The Blackmore Women's Institute has grown in number and is a lively unit.

The foregoing are among the signs that the nothing-ever-happens-here village to which we came nine years ago is changing. We try to identify Christian service with as much of the life of the community as we can, with a view to making the Christian Message available to any who show interest.

Although we cannot report that our parish church is full at the times of services, except on special occasions and at festivals, we are not without encouragement. In particular, our Young Wives' Fellowship, which has grown in numbers and is quite go ahead; also the Youth Club has managed to keep going for two years now, though its attachment to the church is rather tenuous. From our point of view it is worthwhile as offering a point of contact with our local youth. The fortnightly Bible study is encouraging and seems to be appreciated by those who attend and by those who share by means of the tape recorder. The studies have drawn several friends from the Baptist Church in the village. We rejoice in this coming together. During the year on one occasion the Baptist Congregation came to a service of Evening Prayer and on another our congregation joined in worship at the Baptist Church. The Mothers' Union, Women's Fellowship and Junior Church continue much as they have done in other years but within the membership of the church there is a growing readiness to serve.

The church accounts and the annual Garden Fete which, for some years, had been among the Vicar's responsibilities, have been taken over by able members of the congregation. We held a Flower Festival over the August Bank Holiday for the second year. This was a great success and brought hundreds to see our lovely old church and, we trust, to worship God and praise him for his handiwork in nature and for the skills of man. Recently a party of our ladies started the task of making embroidered kneelers for the church. Another group made up Christmas Cards to sell in aid of the restoration of the church. Thus it can be seen that interest and active participation grows.

During the year the two large dormer windows on the north side of the church have been restored and this means that we are now able to concentrate on the interior. All that has been done to restore the church fabric was urgent but nothing like as apparent as will be the interior. If all goes well the appearance of the church inside will be worthy of so ancient and historic a place of worship.

The passing centuries have established this season of Christmas as a sign of world-wide significance, speaking of the coming of God into the world and affairs of men in the t human person of Jesus, born at Bethlehem and anointed the Cl Saviour of the world.

To those of us for whom the Bible is the authoritative word of God is found within its pages a revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ whose coming was foretold hundreds of years before the event. Among those who prophesied this coming none spoke with greater clarity than the Prophet Isaiah a man of learning, culture and deep religious experience. He recorded God as saying, in reference to the coming One: 'Behold my servant whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delight I have put my spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice the the nations . . . I will lead the blind in a way that they know not, in paths that they have not known will I guide the I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough place into level ground. These things I will do and I will not forsake them". Isa. 42: 1 and 16.

To read the chapters in the second half of Isaiah as a message from God to man is to set oneself free from the frustration, uncertainty and hopelessness that characterises so much of this modern world. In the foregoing selections in particular there is God's invitation to know the Source of true peace with justice and to experience in one's daily life that providence which marks out a clear pathway and lightens it as we go.

As we grow older the years seem to pass ever more quickly. With the closing of 1966 we look back with gratitude at the many mercies of the Lord for our own well-being and for much fellowship with Christians. With this our news and views we send our Christmas Greetings and sincere good wishes for 1967.

Hilda and Montague H. Knott.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1965)

Christmas 1965

The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex.

19 - CHRISTMAS - 65

Dear Friend,

This ninth Christmas Letter from Blackmore means that for more than eight years our home has been established in the Essex Countryside. Friends of long standing have asked whether we like life in a country parish and our reply is -we like the place, we like the people and we like the work. There is always a welcome into the homes of the parish. Special occasions, a birth, a marriage, a bereavement, some good fortune or an unexpected trial, provide opportunities to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in sharing with and serving our spiritual charges. Our ministry is already reaching into a second generation for there are children who come running to greet one when visiting the village school whose parents were joined in marriage during our first years in Blackmore.

When reviewing the year in retrospect we arm ourselves with the Vicar's diary-and the year's issues of "Friends', our parish magazine; thus we recall the principal items of interest. The usual services and activities referred to in earlier letters continue. The St. Laurence Youth Club was started in January. The Young Wives Fellowship is in its second year. The fortnightly Bible Study in the Vicarage has made a start with the Gospel on John. Scion our team of helpers will be making up the Christmas food parcels for the old folks. There were 87 last year. The combined Garden Party and Gift Day in June was a success, as was a wonderful Flower Festival in the Church over the August Bank holiday. The Church Army supplied officers to lead in a parish mission. Home meetings were used to reach non-Churchgoing adults. It is not easy to assess the outcome. It seems certain that interest was aroused with some and that the local church must follow up with an evident concern for those who showed interest.

We have benefitted from the new lighting and heating in the church. Work is in hand for the renewal of two large dormer windows and then we face a major task of repairs and decoration to the interior of our church. It will cost in the neighbourhood of £2,000.

If our letter seems parochial thus far it is not that we are unaware of events in the larger world about us. It is that we so value the prayers and evident interest of those to whom our letter goes that we feel a duty to inform them. As to the larger world it is at the same time encouraging and disappointing. The idealogical tensions which in places issue in conflicts; the entrenchment of the "haves" against a surrender of standards and privileges to the "have nots'; the unscrupulous exploitation of national and international situations to serve political ends; these all sadden one's heart.

Against this the Christian can take comfort in what seems an evident movement of God the Holy Spirit in the affairs of men. The searchings of heart and fresh recognition of the authority of Holy Scripture in the Roman Church; the universal desire of Christians to find a unity in Christ with a readiness to meet on points of agreement rather than to squabble over points of disagreement; the impact of evangelical witness through the Pentecostal Churches; the use of radio and television to carry the Gospel into the very homes of the people; the continuing endeavour of Christians everywhere to be followers of their Lord and Saviour; these gladden one's heart.

Considering the conditions of the time, parochial and extra parochial, we find our thoughts turning to the record of the Apostle John - Jesus said, I have told you . . . In the world you will have trouble, but courage! The Victory is mine; I have conquered the world. In me you may find peace. (John 16, 33. L.E.B.). Peace can be appreciated only by those who have endured in conflict the absence of peace. In the peace which ensues from conflict there is the peace of the victorious - triumphant and reward and the peace of the subdued - oppressive and impoverishing.

It was in the world that the Captain of our salvation or, the leader who delivers, as the N.E.B. puts it, met hi: conflict and triumphed so making peace by the blood of his cross. It is in the world that Christ's soldiers - his followers, are called to engage in the conflict which will lead to their peace. This ultimate, spiritual and eternal peace is secured on the ground of Christ's own victory over Satan at the cross. According to Scripture the peace God gives is meant to be the experience of Christian here and now.

Those who are not led by Christ may have a kind of peal secured by their submissions to the Evil One but it is spiritually oppressive and impoverishing; the Christian on the other hand can rejoice in the spiritual and moral comfort in which he is involved because by this means he can, in following his Lord, endure with courage, experience victor: and rest triumphantly, rewardingly in the peace he finds in Christ.

Peace was at the very heart of the angels' message as they announced the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem, whose advent we celebrate this season.

It was good to hear from so many of our friends. You', no idea what pleasure you gave us. If you didn't receive an acknowledgement, in kindness receive this in lieu and with much gratitude. H.B. has found the going rough at times through the year and M.H. managed to slip a disc from which he is recovering. Otherwise we are fine and all is well, for which we render thanks to God.

With every good wish for Christmas and the Year of Grace 1966.

Hilda & Montague H. Knott.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1964)

Christmas 1964

The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex.

19 - CHRISTMAS - 64

Dear Friend,

Addressing the envelopes for our Christmas Letter has revealed that our mailing list has grown more than is usual during the past year. We are pleased that old friends and new are thus brought to mind.

This is our eighth Christmas Letter to be sent from Blackmore Vicarage. Twelve months ago it was the outstanding: inter which sprang to mind as one reviewed the year. This time it is the outstanding summer. Even as this is being penned a weakening sun is splashing the thinning foliage into a riot of autumn colours as though summer struggled against a final exit.

We enjoyed receiving your greetings last Christmas and especially reading the letters of those who were able to write. Though in many cases our friendship continues through an annual exchange of greetings or letters yet, where Christians are concerned, it offers occasions for praise, thanksgiving and prayer as the passing years register the continuing faithfulness of God and the steady going on of his faithful people.

To our news then. For the Diocese of Chelmsford this has been the Year of Jubilee. The Diocese was created in 1914 and for 50 years God has blessed and enlarged Christ's Church and her witness in this County of Essex. Our Bishop has reminded us of the tremendous changes wrought through, as he put it, two hot wars and one cold one. As part of its thanksgiving the Diocese hopes to give £11,000 towards building a church and towards the support of a Christian youth leader, in Africa.

As to the Parish, new houses are being built all the time. In new roads houses are being fronted with pavements and one feels, somewhat regretfully, that it might not be long before some of the newer residents agitate for street lighting. The increasing population means that more and more souls are being added to our spiritual care. We long for a greater measure of freedom from the mechanics of running a parish in order to "pastor the flock".

The pattern of worship, work and witness continues as in past years. Five of our young people and two adults were confirmed on the 9th April, Two of the young confirmees have become teachers in the Junior Church. A Young Wives Fellowship was formed in early summer and commenced meeting regularly in September. New chiming hammers were fitted to our bells to avoid the risk of fracturing, a few months ago. We hope one day to instal a new bell frame so that our ancient bells can be rung again in the traditional manner. After a frustrating delay we at last have a Faculty to instal new heating and lighting in our church. The work should be completed by the end of November or early December. It will be interesting to see how valid has been the excuse for absence from services on account of a cold, cold church. The fortnightly Bible Study, the monthly Family Service and the women's meetings continue encouragingly. Now, we have commenced planning and praying for a mission to be held jointly with the neighbouring parish of High Ongar. This is to be called "Operation Open Door", will be held 20 - 31 May 1965 and will be led by officers of the Church Army.

As regards ourselves, we had a happy holiday spending a few days in turn in Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall. We both feel wonderfully well, apart from the occasional stiffness and ache that come with the passage of time. During the years in Blackmore the Lord Jesus has become a greater reality in our lives and his service, at the same time, more demanding and more rewarding.

We like to bring our Christmas Letter to its close with a reference to Holy Scripture and the sharing of a thought thereon.

The Apostle John records the interview between Pilate and Jesus Christ at the point of his exit. In these words Jesus refers to his advent, to which our thoughts go instinctively at this Season, "to this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice". (John 18:37). The crib and the cross are inseparable. He was the man born to die. Between that birth and that death we trace his life - full of grace and truth but it was pre-eminently in the manner of his coming and in the manner of his going that we discern the grace (favour) of God towards man.

The Evangelists draw a word picture of the Babe of Bethlehem. With the hymn-writer we sing "veiled in flesh the Godhead see". The Apostle Paul writes that he "was made in the likeness of men". This divine condenscension on the part of Almighty God, in the person of the Eternal Son, to take our human nature and become man - the Man Jesus, is beyond our comprehension. Equally incomprehensive is his vicarious death. Again the Evangelists draw the picture and we behold - "Christ the mighty Maker die for man, his creature's sin". Without his birth there could have been no death and without his death, his birth would have had no point. These truths concerning the Truth, are God's appointed means by which we enter into truth, the means by which we find ourselves able to hear his voice.

For that birth and that death let us say with the Psalmist "bless the Lord O my soul … all that is within me bless his holy Name".

We send our greetings in Christ and our good wishes for the coming year.

Hilda and Montague H. Knott.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1963)

Christmas 1963

19 - CHRISTMAS - 63

Dear Friend,

It has been a raw day and now that darkness has fallen, the drawn curtains and the glow of the fire in the study create an easier atmosphere for the penning of our annual letter. On the desk is the card index which records the names and addresses of our numerous relatives and friends. The file containing copies of previous Christmas letters is atohy elbow. I can hear my good wife preparing tea, and so we make a start on the seventh Christmas letter to go out from The Vicarage in Blackmore. I say we for though I wield the pen, every word is as from us both. It is a grand thing when the partnership of man and wife is also a partnership in Christian service.

An account of the year's happenings must start with a reference to the unusually severe winter which blanketed the countryside with snow from Christmas to the end of March. Mercifully, this winter has started in gentler mood. Yet it was interesting to note that our older parishioners stood up to that hard winter and apart from a restriction in movement from their homes were none the worse for the snow and the intense cold.

Parish Church activities have continued in their established pattern, Services, Bible Study, Parish Suppers, Jumble Sale and Garden Fete, all have brought - their labour and their reward. At Christmas, Easter and Harvest, members of our congregation beautify our ancient church with seasonal decorations, largely floral. Each year one feels they could not be bettered yet this year they have been surpassingly beautiful. A high-light for many of us was the visit of our good friends Bishop and Mrs Goodwin Hudson from Australia. The Bishop preached at Evening Prayer just before leaving for the Toronto Anglican Congress. His helpful sermon is still remembered.

Of course, our perennial problem of church repairs is still with us. We have raised and spent 17,000 and need to spend at least another £5,000 to finish the job. Our unique wooden bell tower is now structurally sound but needs another £12 - 1500 to complete the restoration. It had been our hope that an efficient heating system would have been in operation by now, but difficulties, other than those foreseen, have arisen and we are still making do and shivering our way through the services on really cold days.

Our Parish Quarterly, "Friends", with which many of our friends are acquainted, has completed its third year. It goes to all the houses of our Parish. Numerous expressions of interest and appreciation reach one so that one feels it is serving a useful purpose as a link between parson and people in a parish too numerous to permit visiting every home.

At the beginning of next year our Diocese of Chelmsford will commemorate its Golden Jubilee. Plans are afoot to make 1964 memorable not so much as marking the end of an era but rather as a year of gratitude for the past, of forward looking as to the future and of firm resolve to bear the Gospel of Christ by word and action to those outside the Church's fellowship.

It is interesting to observe that some of our friends in the ministry are having to resort to the duplicated letter to reach a growing circle of acquaintances. Our own letter will be going for the first time to a number who were unknown to us when the year commenced, but whose coming into our lives is greatly welcomed and we value these new friendships.

We both are wonderfully well, although there are times of pressure when we feel we really are that year older than when we last wrote a Christmas letter. It has been good to walk with the Lord, to search the Scriptures and to tell of our wonderful Saviour. It has been good to share time and counsel with one and another, to recall those who have testified to the help God has given them in such sharing.

Besides the card index and file referred to in our opening paragraph, there is also on my desk, the best of Books. I turn to it now to send to each of you a passage which will speak for itself:-"great beyond all question is the mystery of our religion: 'He (God) who was manifested in the body, vindicated in the spirit, seen by angels; who was proclaimed among the nations, believed in throughout the world, glorified in high heaven.'" 1 Tim 3 16

These brief but moving phrases trace the movement of God from glory to glory. God became flesh. The Christ child of Bethlehem is the Christ in Glory. By the way of His lowly yet lovely life, by the way of the Garden, the Cross and the Tomb, He returned to the glory from which He came, but with an added glory and having gained the right for an innumerable company to share that glory with Him.

Thank you for your letters, if they have gone The Vicarage, unacknowledged. We enjoy hearing from you and hope the Blackmore, post will bring news of you in due time. Essex.

We send our affectionate greetings and wish you the rich blessing of the Lord throughout the coming year.

Hilda and Montague H. Knott 

Friday, 18 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1962)

Christmas 1962

19 - CHRISTMAS - 62
The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex.

Dear Friend,

It is more than five years since we made our home in Blackmore. We begin to feel that we are taking root in the Essex countryside. Our village is a little off the beaten track and the tempo of life is slower than in Woodford and Walthamstow, the districts from which we came. We find this suits us very well and if we see less of friends of long standing, we feel that our lives have been greatly enriched in the making of new friendships with people of choice character.

As regards the Parish, the year has brought the round of activities which have established a pattern of procedure for us. In February we held our Parish Supper, an enjoyable meal followed by a review of the previous year's results in church affairs and a statement of our plans for 1962, afforded an occasion of happy fellowship. The Annual Meeting in early May was encouraging. The accounts showed a slightly improved position and the Church decided to increase its giving from the church funds to the Church's work at home and overseas. Once again we were favoured with a lovely day for our Garden Fete in the grounds of Jericho Priory, held as usual in June. The proceeds, in aid of the church repairs, showed a slight increase over previous years. And so with the harvest services and supper, the childrens and women's outings, we could write in similar strain. Looking back, we feel it has been a good year.

There is also that aspect of Christ's work in our Parish, not so evident as the more public occasions, which is, in our minds, of greater importance. We feel that with the few there is a growing appreciation for the Word of God, a gradual and deepening spiritual apprehension of Christ our Saviour and of God's eternal purposes in Him. There is growth in the work amongst the children, and the Bible study held fortnightly is better attended. In pastoral ministry to the aged, the sick and the sorrowing we have been conscious of the Lord's help in bringing counsel and comfort to those in need. Preparation for baptism and marriage, the conducting of funerals, all enable us to urge our parishioners to relate their lives to God and so secure the rich blessings He makes available to those who make his Son their Friend.

The repairs to the fabric of our ancient church still claim much time and attention. We are suffering from past years of neglect. What we thought would cost some £5000 when we first came, will eventually cost quite £12,000. An important stage in the repair of the historic wooden tower is in progress as we write and this will take us past the halfway mark.

As regards ourselves, we continue in good health and are grateful for strength given to perform our duties. Our lives seem busier than ever. We are conscious of a closer walk with the Lord Jesus and find the peace He promised His followers, a greater reality in our lives.

This year has not been uneventful with its piloted earth satellites, inter-stellar probes and crises in Africa, the Middle East, Cuba and India. There is the anomaly of half the world wanting and half the world wasting; of human knowledge and skill providing at the same time, the means to improve health and prolong life, and also to maim and destroy millions. Small wonder that peace does not flourish in such a seed bed. Yet it was into this same world that Jesus came nineteen centuries ago. Changes are only in form not in spirit or nature. Men yearned for peace then as now. The absence of peace from the affairs of nations was and is only a reflection of the absence of peace from the affairs of men. The message of the Angels was "Peace on earth to men of good will." If all were men of good will, and in the experience of peace, then would there be peace with nations.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry says that the Lord Jesus had neither silver nor gold to leave his disciples his departing but he bequeathed something infinitely more valuable - his peace. This legacy is for the reader and writer as much as for the twelve. Here is the clause.

"Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears." (John 14.27 N.E.B.)

It remains to record our affectionate greetings. To wish you God's rich blessing through the coming year. To say that as we address the envelope which brings you this letter, we gather you and your affairs into our thoughts and prayers. We hope we may hear from you when you have time to write.

Very cordially yours,

Hilda and Montague H. Knott

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1961)

Christmas 1961

The Vicarage, BLACKMORE, Essex.
December, 1961

Dear Friend,

We begin to find that the writing of an annual Christmas letter is not the easiest thing to do. Looking at the four previous efforts which have been sent out from Blackmore it is a little difficult to maintain originality. There remains pre-eminently our desire to send you greetings, to tell of our well-being and to send a thought from out of the Holy Scriptures.

In our Parish things continue in the pattern established and as indicated in earlier letters. We have introduced a parish magazine entitled "Friends". It appears quarterly and seems to be meeting a need. At least it affords the Vicar a means of speaking regularly to all his people. Another venture is the monthly Family Service, aimed at reaching young parents with young children. Numbers have grown steadily throughout the year and it is encouraging to feel that for the most part the service is attracting those who do not attend church at any other time.

Repairs to the church fabric continue. We have raised about £5,000 and spent £4,500. We shall need as much again before the church is as it should be. Such an interesting and ancient building, with all its hallowed and historical associations, deserves our care.

Although a year has passed we feel not a day older. A loving heavenly Father has crowded our lives with blessing and given us a sense of reward as we have pressed on in Christian service.

Among other good things, the year has given us the New English Bible. The following is the rendering of Hebrews 9. 26 & 28: "Christ has appeared once and for all at the climax of history to abolish sin by the sacrifice of himself … and will appear a second time … to bring salvation to those who are watching for him".

We will commemorate at Christmas the first appearing of our Saviour, when God showed in the person of his Son, not only the perfection of humanity, but his will to redeem men, by the sacrifice of his Son, from a world corrupted through sin and condemned on that account.

Our recalling of his first appearing ought, also, to bring to mind his second appearing. This is the promise of God. Christ will appear a second time to those who are watching and he will complete in them the salvation which has already begun in their believing and expectant hearts. It is our hope and prayer that all who read this letter will be found in such company.

There remains the third reason for this letter - that we might send you greetings. We are so conscious of the wealth of friendship with which we have been favoured that we find it one of our chief joys to remember in a special way, at this season, all who are dear to us by ties of nature and friendship. We send our affectionate good wishes and pray that you may have a holy, happy Christmas followed by a New Year filled with the loving provision of our Heavenly Father.


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1959)

Christmas 1959

The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex. December, 1959.

Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly". John 10.10 "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them .... and be their God". Rev. 21.3

Dear Friend,

The oncoming of Christmas finds us thinking again of friends to whom we would send greeting. Somehow the drawn curtains, shutting out the darkness of the night and the glow of a fire, conduce to nostalgic memories of past events and associations.

We have just entered the Season of Advent for the third time since coming to Blackmore. The past year has brought encouragement and a clear indication that the extension of Christ's Kingdom in this Parish will be stubbornly contested by Satan through every worldly influence with which it is possible to captivate the minds of men.

Our congregations are made up mainly of the older generation, among whom are some fine Christians. The middle generation, parents of school-age children, seem generally to have no interest in religion. The younger generation, lacking parental example are casual in their interest, although our Mission Church and Parish Church Junior Sections have some forty to fifty regular members. The women's meetings and especially the small Bible study group continue healthily.

Much repair work has been done to the Parish Church, at a cost exceeding £2,000. At least a further £3,000 will be needed to finish the work. It is surely honouring to God that a parish church should be in good repair, and whilst we are bending our efforts to this end, we have a greater desire to see the living church adorned with the likeness of Christ her Lord and effective in making known the Gospel of God's grace.

Several younger people, who appeared to be growing spiritually, have fallen away. This can be understood, for apart from brief periods in church fellowship there is nothing at home or abroad to promote spiritual development. For this and other aspects of God's work in Blackmore we ask and shall value your prayers.

It is our hope that this outline of news from Blackmore will encourage our friends to reciprocate with word of their own affairs to the strengthening of those mutual ties, which we value greatly.

The year has brought us, as it surely has every child of God, testing and discipline by which the Spirit would purge our dross and refine our natures. We are discovering that abundance of life is God's design for his children and so we give you the texts at the head of this letter. The "more abundantly" is the rich reward for dying to this world and its ways. The Apostle John wrote "he that hath the Son hath life". Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them. How stimulating to courage, how comforting to the mind, to know that in the Christ, whose birth we commemorate at this Season, God dwells with every believer, and will show himself their God in the vicissitudes of life.

May your Christmastide be filled with holy joy and the New Year enable you to prove the unfailing grace of God.

Cordially your friends,

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1958)

Christmas 1958

The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex. December, 1958.

"His name shall be called - the Prince of Peace" Isa. 9.6. "Thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save His people from their sins". Matt 1.21.

Dear Friend,

Once again my wife and I find ourselves thinking and speaking of friends far and near, for once again we approach the Season of Goodwill. How quickly the cycle of another year has turned and how much seems to have happened in our lives.

With a copy of the letter we sent a year ago before us, we are reminded that we had then newly entered upon our Ministry in this Parish of Blackmore. As we foresaw then so we have found since, we like Blackmore, the place and the people. And according to our ability we have sought to serve them as Ministers of the Gospel of Christ.

As to the living church, our numbers have been augmented. Several have made a clear-cut decision for Christ and there is evidence of a deepening of spiritual life as the Holy Spirit does his gracious work in the lives of men and women. We have commenced a small but sustained work amongst the children. The Women's Fellowship is an encouraging feature in our church life. Recently we have commenced a conversational Bible-study group which is appreciated. We are grateful for increased attendances at our Sunday Services.

We are also able to report favourably on the Parish Church, which dates back to 1115 A.D. The fabric and the churchyard were in a deplorable state and it is estimated that it will cost £5000 to bring them into good order. In January we set ourselves to the task and have succeeded in raising 1375 in our own Parish to date. A legacy of £100, a loan of £750 and grants from charitable organisations have brought us a total of £2100 towards the £2800 needed for the first stage of our repairs. The scaffolding about the tower and steeple is evidence that the work is in hand.

The Vicarage, which was newly built when we came to live in Blackmore just over a year ago looks much more presentable now that the garden is taking shape. We believe God has helped us to make it a place where folks feel welcome. We have no church hall and so most mid-week gatherings are held in our home and my wife has performed the duties of hostess most ably.

It is with a sense of humble gratitude to God that we record the foregoing and feel it a pleasant duty to inform our friends, since we are conscious of much prayer being offered on our behalf. The demands that result from the spiritual care of more than 1500 souls in an extended parish are considerable and we are constantly proving that only the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for these things.

We greatly rejoiced in the response from the many we have come to know and love through past years, resulting from our letter of a year ago. It has been particularly gratifying to see and hear friends from across the Atlantic and we treasure the memory of those fleeting reunions.

Now we approach that Season when we remember that the Saviour of the World is come. We who are Christians recognise that He is the source of all blessing so that the close of the Old Year leads us to look back in thankfulness for His mercies and on into the New Year with trustful expectation.

Again we anticipate news from those who are in our thoughts at this time and again we send our affectionate greetings and good wishes for the coming year.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1957)

Christmas 1957

The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex. December, 1957.

"Fear not - I bring you good tidings. Unto you is born - a Saviour. This shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe". Luke 2 10-12

Dear Friend,

My wife and I are sitting in my study. We have been thinking and speaking of our many friends in many places. Our thoughts have roved to Scandinavia, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the U.S.A., to say nothing of numerous places in the British Isles. And is it not fitting that this Season which recalls God's good tidings of peace on earth to men of goodwill, should find us thinking in affectionate mood of those who are dear to us by ties of nature, friendship and Christian fellow-ship.

I had hoped to prepare a more elaborate greeting than this. One which would have pictured the setting in which God had placed us for His service, as well as news of our doings. But our commitments have left insufficient time. However, we hope each recipient will receive this as personal to themselves and as conveying the warmth of personal regard which they know us to feel for them.

Radical changes have taken place in our lives since the end of the war. There have been times of testing and proving but through it all the hand of God has been upon us for good. Step by step our blessed Lord has led us in the way of His appointment and we rejoice in a sense of His nearness as well as in our partnership together. My call to the Ministry in the Church of England, going into College, and subsequent curacy in Walthamstow, challenged our faith continually but brought such sweet consolations in Christ, such joy in service that we would not, looking back, have chosen another way. We feel we can say with the hymn writer "We'll praise Him for all that is past and trust Him for all that's to come".

In July I was instituted to the Parish of Blackmore but we were unable to move into the Vicarage, which was then in building, until the end of October. Blackmore is a country parish some thirty miles from London. The Village is old and has quite a history. There was once a priory which was despoiled at the Dissolution. King Henry the Eighth was in the habit of stealing away from Westminster to find solace with one of his paramours in Blackmore. The Priory has gone but the lovely old Norman Church remains with its 14th century wooden tower and steeple. Countless generations of Blackmore people have knelt to worship Christ our Saviour within its walls and an age-long sanctity seems to reveal itself as we who worship there now bring God the offerings of our hearts and voices.

The Parish had been without a vicar for seven years. A neighbouring minister had maintained the services in the church. We shall never forget the cordial welcome we received nor shall we cease to be grateful for the help and kindly interest of the people of Blackmore. We are nicely settled in the new Vicarage and feel wonderfully at home. The slight stroke I suffered in August of last year seems to have cleared without leaving any ill-effects. Both my wife and I feel that great opportunities for Christian service are before us and we are confident that our Lord will enable us to seize those opportunities for his glory. It is our prayer that we may be found truly humble and usable.

We look forward to greetings from those we know and love and, where possible, news of their doings. This brings our own message of affectionate goodwill and prayers for your joy and blessing this Christmastide and throughout 1958.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

All Change in Blackmore

Starting with pub news, Blackmore has a new landlord at the Leather Bottle, which is undergoing extensive refurbishment.  Brentwood Borough Council has rejected a planning application to change The Bull to residential use.  The Post Office business is planned to move from its present building sometime soon on the retirement of the present postmistress.  Finally, at St Laurence Church Blackmore villagers will be welcoming the new Vicar, Revd. Samantha Brazier-Gibbs, at her induction on Tuesday 24 November. 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Remembrance Sunday.

ESAH160: Remembrance Sunday: Harlow: Harlow Council house developments named after soldiers Commemorating local people in street names is a very appropriate way to mark the local history of a community. In Harlow new Council homes are named after Private Robert Foster, who died in Afghanistan in 2007.

Friday, 30 October 2015

High Country History Group: Journal No. 57 (September 2015)

High Country History Group: Journal No. 57 (September 2015): There is certainly a variety of interesting items in the latest edition of The Journal, sent to members of the High Country History Group...

Thursday, 15 October 2015

High Country History Group: 'Anglo Saxon Life' of theme of next talk - 22 Octo...

High Country History Group: 'Anglo Saxon Life' of theme of next talk - 22 Octo...: Just a quick note to remind you that our autumn season begins next Thursday, 22 October, with a talk by Peter Jennings on ‘Anglo Saxon Life'.  Toot Hill Village Hall, 8pm. Visitors £3. Members of High Country History Group:£1.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Friends of Essex Churches Trust. Study Day. Saturday 10 October 2015

ESAH160: Friends of Essex Churches Trust. Study Day. Saturd...: Join Dr Christopher Starr on a day of church crawling. Details of visits and application to local churches: Stondon Massey, Fryerning, Mountnessing and Margaretting.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Blackmore: Womens' Institute Centenary

Blackmore WI celebrates its Centenary this week with a special meeting. The group was formed in 1915 and is one of the longer running and earliest formed. Pictures here include the commemorative rose planted in Blackmore Road, appropriately in full bloom, and Blackmore WI in 1918.  Happy Centenary Ladies!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Mother and Son: Bessie Blount and Henry Fitzroy of Blackmore

Two books closely related to the history of Blackmore have recently been purchased for the Library of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History. ‘Bessie Blount, Mistress of Henry VIII’ (told in the title of the book by Elizabeth Norton), a lady in the retinue of Catherine of Aragon, was sent in confinement to Blackmore Priory in 1519 where in the neighbouring house she bore his child, Henry Fitzroy (told in ‘Bastard Prince. Henry VIII’s Lost Son’ by Beverley A. Murphy).

This note unravels the research and establishes whether Henry VIII may have really “gone to Jericho”.

According to Beverley Murphy, the King’s affair with Elizabeth may have been brief and began following the pregnancy of Catherine in April 1518. “It is a sad irony that Katherine’s happy condition was probably the impetus for her husband to seek solace in the arms of Elizabeth Blount” (Murphy, 27).  Elizabeth Norton disagrees, because as early as autumn 1514 Bessie had met the King: “without the birth of Henry Fitzroy, Bessie’s own affair would have probably gone unrecorded” (Norton, 119).  The birth date of Henry Fitzroy is unclear other than he was six years of age in June 1525.  About the time that Bessie was to become visibly pregnant Thomas Wolsey discreetly dispatched her to Jericho House in Blackmore, the home of the prior Thomas Goodwyn (Murphy, 30).  “Bessie made her final appearance at court early in October 1518” (Norton, 131). 

Wolsey was charged with taking an active interest in Henry’s illegitimate child: Blackmore was “sufficiently quiet not to rouse unwelcome gossip” (Norton, 133). Henry VIII is alleged to have been a frequent visitor to Jericho House and is said to have given orders not to be disturbed hence the expression used in Court, “He has gone to Jericho”. This has entered into local folklore fuelled by Philip Morant who used these words in his ‘History of Essex’ (1768) adding that the Priory was one of the King’s “Houses of Pleasure”.  Subsequently historians have suggested that Blackmore Priory was dissolved in 1527 because of its immoral goings-on. From “the records of the dissolution … it does appear that the prior was somewhat more worldly than he should have been” (Norton, 134): its debts ran to one third of the annual income.  But then if a future King lived there perhaps the debts were with some justification? 

Henry VIII may have visited Elizabeth at Blackmore, contrary to the view expressed by Murphy. Bessie certainly did not resume her duties following the birth of Fitzroy (Murphy, 31) and there is no record of the King staying overnight (Norton, 134). But this should not suggest the King had nothing further to do with Bessie.  Blackmore is relatively close to Newhall, Chelmsford, which was renamed Beaulieu in 1523, from where the King “set out to visit her. This is once again evidence that Bessie’s departure from court was not the end of the affair between her and the King” (Norton, 134). It is possible that she later had a daughter by the King around 1520 (Norton, 139) perhaps conceived in Blackmore (Norton, 151). Fitzroy’s biographer disagrees (Murphy, 32).  

The King was delighted with the news of the birth of a son and whilst in Essex that summer might have held a formal celebration at the manor of Havering-atte-Bower (Murphy, 31).  Cardinal Wolsey was named the child’s godparent, as he had been for his half-sister Mary, the only surviving child born of Queen Catherine, some three and a half years earlier. Although no christening records survive Wolsey’s absence from Court from 19 June to 29 June 1519 may have been due to his attendance at Fitzroy’s baptism probably at Blackmore.  Could the font have been the place where the ceremony quietly took place?

Bessie Blount was married off to Gilbert Tailbois (or Tailboys), who hailed from a rich Lincolnshire family.  This may not have happened as quickly as historians have suggested: the first record of marriage is recorded in June 1522 (Murphy, 33; Norton, 139). They may have married in April 1522 because “the king began to be conspicuously generous to Gilbert Tailboys” (Norton, 141).

Historians are again divided as to whether Bessie had any involvement in Fitzroy’s upbringing. Her biographer suggests “it seems probable that she would have retained custody of her son … perhaps playing a part in raising both Henry Fitzroy and Elizabeth Tailboys until her marriage in 1522” (Norton, 151).

Much admired and spoilt by Henry VIII, Henry Fitzroy was, by the age of six, created Duke of Richmond with the titles Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Somerset. This placed Henry Fitzroy in an honoured position because the title held precedence over all other Dukes except potential legitimate sons of the King. By doing so, Henry VIII had elevated his son’s position in society such that he would be a more eligible bachelor. By the age of eight Henry Fitzroy was Admiral of England, Ireland and Normandy but died in 1536, aged seventeen of tuberculosis. He was buried at Thetford Priory.  Had he survived the course of English history could have changed and Fitzroy crowned Henry IX.

Andrew Smith

Principal Sources:
Murphy, Beverley. A.. Bastard Prince. Henry VIII’s Lost Son (Sutton Publishing, 2001)

Norton, Elizabeth. Bessie Blount. Mistress to Henry VIII (Amberley, 2011)

High Country History Group: Journal No. 56 (June 2015)

High Country History Group: Journal No. 56 (June 2015): The quarterly Journal of the High Country History Group was issued recently to members. Contents this time: - Ongar's First War Me...

Monday, 25 May 2015

Home Guard Research Request

A friend and I have published a book entitled "Captive in East Anglia". Since its publication we have gathered more information on the same subject so are continuing to gather it together for a possible sequel. In the meantime we have started a 2nd book, about the home guard. We are looking for appropriate personal memories and photos. Unexpectedly finding your contact details on line I wondered if you have any information that we could possibly use.

Rosemary Carter

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Blackmore Village Fayre: 24 & 25 May 2015: Knott Archive on display Sunday

Sunday and Monday, 24 & 25 May 2015, is Blackmore Village Fayre - which is held every two years.  The Priory Church of St Laurence is serving ploughmans lunches both days and there is a historic photo exhibition.  On Sunday the Knott Archive will be on display for the first and perhaps only time.  Rev. Montague Knott (1906-2006) was Vicar of Blackmore for 28 years until 1985.

Thursday, 14 May 2015


We remember today the name at the top of the list of the fallen on the Blackmore War Memorial and Doddinghurst War Memorial. Gerald Wellesley Pigott, aged 18 of Blackmore House, Hook End, died on 14 May 1915.  For more information click the links to the website and the blog. 'The Shrine', long gone, was erected in Hook End as a memorial by his family.