Old Mont is well remembered by the locals of Old Enstone as a “Church man.” He was a life member of the Parish of Old Enstone Church, St Kenelm, where he religiously attended the services.
Never had I envisaged that I would be standing in the exact same spot as Old Mont once had, in a place he had known so well. I felt as though I was treading in his footsteps as it were. As we walked up the path and into the Norman-built Old Enstone Church I pinched myself to see if I was awake.
We followed Edward through the arched doorway into the vestibule. I have a thing for ancient stones–the keepers of secrets and forgotten tales–and could not resist running my hands over the exquisite fluting and old Norman carvings of the church entrance to somehow commune with the past, and in the hope that the stones would whisper their stories.
Below: The Christening Font in St Kenelm, Church Enstone. Old Mont and his god-child (whom Old Mont calls “Our Odd” in Lifting the Latch, and who is the son of the now deceased doctor who resided in a house at the top of Charlbury Hill,) were both christened in this font. When we entered the church, the Church-ladies had the wooden top off the font for cleaning. The font top was too heavy for them to lift, so they asked Bob and Edward if they could lift it back onto the font for them. Beyond the font, looking towards the altar at the front of the church, you can see some of the seating for the congregation. In recent times, the old pews have been replaced by more modern pews and comfortable chairs.
Below left: Lining the walls either side of the church behind the altar, are the choir pews where Old Mont once sat. He was a member of the church choir from the time he was a child. When rehearsing, the choir stood behind the pillar, in the space visible in the right of the photo.
Below right: In the far corner at the back of the church are some old artefacts like the hand-made wooden coffin bier in the photo, and which is still in use today. In Old Mont’s day the village carpenter and his family lived in a cottage next to the side-back of the church. The carpenters made the biers and all the coffins for the village in the basement below their house which was attached to the church by a double set of steps–one set of stairs led down from their cottage kitchen to their basement, and the other set of stairs led up from their basement directly into a tiled anteroom in the back of the church. When the inside door of this anteroom room is opened, it leads directly into the church and its tiled floor forms a part of the church aisle.
The old cemetery to the side and the back of the church was full to capacity even before Old Mont died. Old Mont is buried in Church Enstone’s “new” grave yard.
To get to the newer section of Church Enstone’s cemetery you go out through St Kenelm”s back gate, cross the lane (where we met a sacrilegious tom-cat that was desperate for a little light relief), and open the wire gate into a peaceful daisy-strewn field–please latch the gate behind you out of respect for the souls who are sleeping here.
Below: Old Mont’s grave. His headstone is according to his wishes–a plain slab of stone; its only distinguishing feature is the gently curved top edge.
Old Mont’s headstone is weather-worn, and his name, which is carved into the stone, is now quite difficult to read.