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”.

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