St Kenelm's parish church, Church Enstone
|Enstone shown within Oxfordshire|
|Population||1,139 (parish, including Chalford, Cleveley, Fulwell, Gagingwell, Lidstone, & Radford) (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||Chipping Norton|
|Postcode district||OX7 4|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Enstone Parish Council|
The civil parish is one of the largest in Oxfordshire. It comprises the villages of Church Enstone and Neat Enstone (referred to collectively as Enstone), along with the hamlets of Chalford, Cleveley, Fulwell, Gagingwell, Lidstone, and Radford. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 1,139, living in 453 households.
Enstone's toponym is derived from a standing stone called the Ent Stone, part of the ruins of a neolithic tomb just off the Charlbury Road. The site is also known as the Hoar Stone. It is a scheduled monument.
The earliest parts of the Church of England parish church of Saint Kenelm are Norman, but the building has been rebuilt in stages since the 12th century. The south aisle with its four-bay arcade was built in about 1180. The north aisle was added late in the 13th century. Its arcade has alternating round and octagonal piers. At about the same time, a new chancel arch was made in the east wall of the old chancel, and the present chancel was added east of the previous one. The two-storey south porch was added late in the 13th century. It has octopartite rib vaulting springing from head corbels.
In about 1450, the south aisle was widened, wide arches were opened in both sides of the former chancel, and both aisles were extended eastwards to form side chapels beside these new arches. Most of the present windows in the north aisle were added in the 15th or early in the 16th century. Early in the 16th century, a chantry chapel with a rib vaulted ceiling was built on the south side of the later chancel, and a wide arch was built to link it with the chancel. Little of the chapel now remains except the corbels of the vaulting. The bell tower was built in the middle of the 16th century. The side windows of the chancel are also Tudor.
In 1856, St Kenelm's was restored under the direction of the Oxford Diocesan architect G.E. Street, and the lych gate and west doorway were added. In about 1870, the present east window of the chancel was inserted, along with a window on the corner between the chancel and the northeast chapel.
The tower has a ring of six bells. W&J Taylor of Loughborough, Leicestershire, cast the treble, second, third, and fifth bells in 1831, presumably at the foundry they had at Oxford at that time. John Taylor & Co cast the fourth and tenor bells at their Loughborough foundry in 1961 and 1981 respectively.
East of St Kenelm's church is a mediaeval tithe barn that was built for Winchcombe Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Gloucestershire that owned the manor of Enstone. The barn has a cruck roof and a date stone from 1382, but its manner of construction suggests it is a late 15th century building. It may therefore have been rebuilt at that time, retaining the date stone from an earlier structure. The barn is a Grade II*listed building and a scheduled monument.
In 1657, an attempt to merge the Benefices of Enstone and Heythrop was abandoned in the face of local opposition. The vicar in the 1960s was Hubert Brasier (1917–1981), the father of Prime Minister Theresa May. The parishes were finally merged in 1964. In 2001, the Benefice of Enstone and Heythrop merged with that of Ascott-under-Wychwood, Chadlington, and Spelsbury to form the Chase Benefice.
According to John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870–72), there were also Baptist and Roman Catholic congregations in the village at that time.
Enstone has two public houses: the Crown Inn in Mill Lane at Church Enstone, which was built late in the 17th century and extended in the 20th century, and the Artyard Cafe/Pub (previously the Harrow Inn) on the A44 main road at Neat Enstone. Also in Neat Enstone are shops including a Post Office and general store, an art gallery and a retirement home. Enstone also has a Women's Institute.
Enstone Sports Sunday Football Club plays in Cherwell Trophies Sunday Morning League Division Two.
Enstone is at the junction of two longstanding main roads, one between Oxford and Chipping Norton, and the other between Enstone and Bicester. Both were once turnpikes: the Act of Parliament for the latter was passed in 1797. Since the 1920s, the Oxford–Chipping Norton road has been classified as part of the A44, and the Enstone–Bicester Road has been the B4030.
RAF Enstone, north-east of Church Enstone, was a Royal Air Force Bomber Command Operational Training Unit (OTU) in the Second World War. It was decommissioned in 1947, and is now the civilian Enstone Aerodrome. The area of the former RAF buildings has been redeveloped as an industrial estate, and the north-western perimeter of the airfield has been turned into a poultry farm.
South of Enstone Aerodrome is a disused quarry. This is now the site of the Whiteways Technical Centre, where the Formula One motor racing Renault Sport F1 Team is based. The F1 team, then named Benetton Formula, moved from Witney to the Enstone site in 1992. Renault purchased the team in 2000, and in 2002 they renamed it as the Renault F1 Team. At the end of 2009, Genii Capital acquired a majority stake in the team and, with the involvement of Lotus Cars, it was renamed, first to Lotus Renault GP, and then to the Lotus F1 Team. In 2015, Renault re-acquired the team and named it the Renault Sport F1 Team. Drivers with the team have won the drivers' championship four times: Michael Schumacher in 1994 and 1995, and Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006. The team has won the constructors' championship three times: as Benetton in 1995, and as Renault in 2005 and 2006. The team's car for the 2012 season was named the Lotus E20, E20 being a tribute to the team members and their 20-year history and achievements at the Enstone facility.
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