Enstone takes its name from a standing stone called the Giants Stone or Entastan, part of the ruins of a neolithic barrow opposite the Enstone Sports & Social Club on the Fullbrook road side just off the B4022 Charlbury Road. The feature, also known as the Hoar Stone.
The Hoar Stone at Enstone
The Hoar Stone at Enstone is an example of a Neolithic single burial chamber of a long barrow. It is part of what is known as the Cotswold – Severn group of tombs which are generally dated between 3,700 and 3,100 BC. There remain three standing stones, the largest of which is about nine feet high and is known as the “Old Soldier”. However, an article in The Gentlemen’s Magazine of 1824 suggests that there was a fourth stone together with a small mound. The displaced capstone now lies almost buried to the north side. It is possible that there would have been a portico but nothing of this is now visible.
Originally, long barrows contained a burial chamber with one or more compartments built of massive rock slabs covered by a mound of earth. In most cases, the mound has disappeared exposing the interior megaliths in varying degrees of disarray as seen in the Enstone Hoar Stone and also the Whispering Knights at Rollright. It is typical of the huge monuments which were built by the Neolithic people who prepared long barrows (up to 160 feet long) in which to bury some of their dead.
There is a connection between the name Enstone and the Hoar Stone. In Saxon times, it was known as the Giant’s Stone or Entastan which became Ennestan and subsequently Enstone. At the time of the Enclosure, however, it was referred to as the Hoar Stone which means aged stone or venerable stone.
There is a local legend which says that the stones will return to their places if anyone tries to move them and that on Midsummer’s Eve, the Old Soldier travels to the village for a drink!
The Tithe barn in Church Enstone was built in 1382 for Walter de Wynforton. He was Abbot of Winchcombe Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Gloucestershire that owned the manor of Enstone at the time. Inside the barn is a datestonen flanked by carved heads and has a 4-line Latin inscription containing the date 1382.
In 1921 the barn, which was now part of Rectory Farm, was bought from Heythrop Estate. In 2009 the farm was auctioned when Dennis and Mabel Warner, whose grandfather had originally bought the farm, moved to Chipping Norton. Mr Warner had lived on the farm all his life in a converted milking parlour but had retired from farming. The barn was damaged during the Second World War and was virtually derelict until the owner repaired it to its current condition in the Sixties.
In the past the barn has been used for a number of village functions including a party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation, craft fairs and a Millennium party.
The Enstone Marvels
In 1675, Robert Plot published his The Natural History of Oxfordshire in which he gave a careful description, with accompanying plates, of ‘the waterworks that surpass all others of the county’. This piece about the Enstone ‘Marvels’ is probably the most detailed account we have of water engineering in a seventeenth-century garden., and as a result has been much quoted in many books on garden history.
Plot began with an account of of the discovery and clearance of a natural spring called the Goldwell by engineer, mystic, con-man and protégé of Sir Francis Bacon, one Thomas Bushell Esq. He described the construction work necessary to create a venue suitable for the entertainment of royalty: Charles 1 and his queen Henrietta Maria visited on 23 August 1636.
Following its inevitable decay during the ‘late unhappy wars’, Plot reported on its repair and improvement by the Earl of Litchfield in 1674, and clearly had made a visit to the newly restored attraction as there follows a detailed account of the workings of a fountain on an island in a pool replete with a range of giochi d’aqua, or water games, generally designed to give the visitor a thorough soaking.
In 2013 Stephen Vass led a project to rediscover the Enstone Marvels and an extract of his work can be downloaded here: Enstone Marvels rediscovered
The airfield at Enstone was built in 1943 as a satellite station for Moreton in Marsh. Wellington bombers were the main force based here, but the site was also used by many other aircraft. Air crews were trained here on Wellingtons and on completion of their training were either moved onto the Lancaster, Halifax and other heavy bomber squadrons or remained flying Wellingtons around the UK and overseas.
Following the Allied victory in Europe, Enstone airfield was officially closed at the beginning of 1946. Enstone flying club’s old building and two others on the site remain from wartime, when they were used for the fusing of the bombs. The rally track was the former bomb dump and the 4×4 course runs around the old bomb sangars.
The Opening – 1943
- 12th April – After almost 18 months as Moreton’s satellite Station, Edgehill handed over to 12 OTU at Chipping Warden. The 466 personnel moved quickly to their new satellite Station at Enstone 12 miles East-South-East of Moreton. Enstone had been built by George Wimpey and Co for £591,000. The main runway had been built to heavy bomber standards and was longer than Moreton or Edgehill’s equivalent.
- 30th April – 4241 AA Flight arrived at Enstone to provide guard duties for the Station.
- 8th May – 6 Wellingtons from 21 OTU make a flypast at the opening of the Chipping Norton “Wings” week. The Station Band Played and Grp Capt Cole spoke to the citizens of the town, fund raising efforts became part of the overall campaign.
- 13th May – Enstone village organised a concert for their part of the “Wings for Victory” appeals, Moreton’s band were busy!
- 17th May – ‘X’ Flight, Commanded by Flt Lt K. H. Wallis, with Lysanders and Martinets for target towing and Wellingtons for air gunnery, moved from Moreton to Enstone
The gunnery, “X” Flight of 21 OTU at Enstone in front of a Martinete.
Post War – Closure – 1945/46
23rd November 1945 – The last flights from Enstone took place and in the evening a farewell dance was held in the WAAF NAFFI.
24th November 1945 – All aircrew personnel leave Enstone for Moreton, leaving only a clearing up party behind.
15th January 1946 – The ‘Marching Out’ took place at Enstone and its two runways were closed to flying.
17th January 1946 – Enstone is officially closed and handed over to RAF Maintenance Command.
For a more detailed look at the history of RAF Enstone click here – Enstone Flying Club.
The Re-birth of Enstone Parish Hall
The original Parish Hall building, situated at the end of Chapel Lane within Enstone, was built for the Women’s Institute and the young men of the village in the early 1920’s, but suffered lack of use and the deeds were transferred to a charity. This was set up with the Parish Council being made trustees of the hall and the control of the hall organised by a Management Committee.
The Parish Hall was of a corrugated metal construction and by 2004 was reaching the end of its useful life. In addition it did not meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act and was operating under a temporary dispensation. Once the hub of village life with local organisations meeting there, mothers holding children’s birthday parties as well as many other social events the hall had become outdated. There was limited space, facilities and modern comforts, and its parking facilities woefully inadequate for current day needs.
In 2004 a questionnaire was distributed to every house in the parish and of the 420 questionnaires distributed, 320 were returned. The questionnaires results were analysed and collated as follows:
- Need for
- a new hall – 263 in agreement
- On new site – 128 in agreement
- On existing site – 135 in agreement
- Better hall facilities and more parking – 100 in agreement
Better hall facilities, including additional parking, and suitable kitchen facilities topped this list with a small room for meetings and stage facilities in the main hall also receiving a number of votes. As there was no opportunity to provide additional car parking at the Parish Hall in Chapel Lane and the very poor access of this road, the need for a new site was confirmed.
In August 2010 the Parish Council had a table set up at the annual Enstone Show asking people for their views, the majority of which indicated preference for a new site due to the insufficient parking at Chapel Lane. The Parish Council had also sought guidance from the ORCC’s (Oxfordshire Rural Community Council) parish halls’ advisor.
In 2014 Enstone Parish Council finally achieved their goal of a new Parish Hall on a new site in Enstone as part of The Paddocks housing development by Persimmon Homes. The sale of the site of the old Parish hall, a major grant from West Oxfordshire District Council, along with donations enabled the Council to fund the building. The then Prime Minister, The Right Honourable David Cameron opened the new Parish Hall on 27 November 2014.