|Whats inside the church is as interesting as what is outside. This guide is written with children in mind and is also a useful teaching resource.
A font is a basin for the Holy water used in a baptism (christening), a ceremony of sprinkling water on a person’s (baby’s) forehead or of totally immersing the person in water. Baptism symbolises purification or regeneration and admission into the Christian church.
The octagonal font at Escomb is at least 800 years old but could be much older. It has been carved out of a single piece of sandstone and may have been part of a Roman fountain. In late Saxon times it was the custom for babies to be totally immersed in the Holy water in the font but earlier than this, adult baptism was the usual ceremony. This could be by total immersion in a place such as the nearby river or by standing in the font, which would have been on the floor in those days.
The water in the font, which was changed once a year, was blessed at the service on Easter Sunday to be used throughout the rest of the year.
In the 13th century, the Archbishop of York ordered that fonts should be locked. This was to prevent people stealing the baptismal water and using it for superstitious practices e.g. to counteract the effects of a neighbour’s curse or a witch’s spell. The problem was what to do with the unused Holy water the following Easter. It could not be thrown away as a witch hiding in the churchyard might catch it to use for spells. It had to stay in Holy ground.
The nave is the main part of the church building where people sit for services.
The chancel is the part of the church containing the altar and seats for the clergy (priests, vicars, ministers) and choir. It is separated from the nave by steps or a screen.