This is the official website of The Downs Benefice Winchester, Hampshire.


Notices in brief...

For all the notices and more information, please see our Notices page

In Emergency 

In an emergency, please contact the Rector, Revd Jax Machin on:


Mobile: 07761 055228

Further information about the phone line is available


Prayer Requests

If you have any prayer requests, for any concerns lying on your heart or to give thanks, please email the office on

All prayer requests will be made anonymous before being passed on  to our Prayer Team.

Parish Magazine Deadline

Copy for Apr/May edition of the Benefice Parish Magazine should be submitted by 12.00 noon - Friday 3rd March

Family Friendly Worship and Activities across the Benefice

Messy Church in the Downs Benefice


Messy Church is a new form of church suitable for all ages but particularly aimed at young families. It started in Portsmouth in 2004 and has since spread across the world.

Messy Church started in the Downs Benefice in October 2012 and currently circulates around the villages of Littleton, Sparsholt and Crawley. It takes place on the 2nd Saturday of each month (apart from August) and runs from 4pm to 6pm.

So what happens at Messy Church? Each month we have a Biblical theme. To date, amongst others, we have had Messy Noah, Messy Mothers and Others, and Messy Love. During the first hour we have fun doing various crafts and activities around the theme, some of which can be quite messy! We then all come together for a Bible story or talk, song and prayers, and finish up with sharing a simple cooked meal. Messy Church is free (though we welcome donations towards the cost of the meal) and is open to all, so if you'd like to see what it's all about, why not call in? Our Facebook page has the details of the next sessions together with photos from previous ones, or check the Benefice diary on this website.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

St. Catherine's, Littleton

Services: Families are welcome to all our services, but those most suited to younger children are the café-style service at 4pm on 1st Sunday of each month (starting May 2016, more details to follow) and the Morning Worship service at 10am on the 4th Sunday of each month.

Toddler Group: Meets every Monday (term-time) 10am – 11.30am in the Church Room, Church Lane, Littleton. Open to all babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers with their carers. Join us for toys, crafts, snacks and singing for the little folk; tea, coffee and chat for the big folk! For more details contact Carol Coleman (01962 881886) or visit our Facebook page:


St. Stephen's with Lainston, Sparsholt

Sparsholt village is home to Sparsholt Church of England Primary School which takes children from Crawley, Littleton and Sparsholt. There is very close liaison between the School and St. Stephen’s Church where the School holds its Harvest Festival, Christingle Service, KS 1 Nativity Play, Ash Wednesday Service, and School Leavers’ Service at the end of the summer term. The School’s Worship Group also holds two Sunday Services during the year, where the pupils lead the worship, usually in February and April. In addition, the School Choir sings at the Mothering Sunday Service, Harvest Festival and Carol Service, all of which are very well attended with lots of families present. The Crib Service on Christmas Eve is always very popular with the younger children. The Rector attends school assemblies very regularly and there is a willingness to prepare Sparsholt Primary School children for Confirmation.

Children are welcome at all our Sunday Services but the Welcome Worship Service at 10.00am on the fourth Sunday in every month is the most suitable for children of any age. There is a Children’s Corner in the Church with books and colouring activities available. The Benefice Trinity Service is held on a farm in Sparsholt and is followed by either a BBQ or Bring and Share lunch; children and dogs are particularly welcome at this Service. Also, a Pet Service is held on the Green in Woodman Close every September to which lots of children bring their pets, be they dogs, rabbits, hamsters and even horses. Carols on the Green is held on an evening during the last week of the Christmas term which is very popular with the children, as well as their Mums and Dads, and grandparents.

St. Peter and Holy Cross, Wherwell

Wherwell village is lucky to have a Primary School within the village which takes children from the surrounding area. There is a close relationship between the school and the church with the Rector of Downs visiting on a regular basis, and we are pleased that the School often uses the church for its special occasions, such as Christingle, Remembrance, Harvest or Carol services.

We also have an organisation called Midday Mums in Wherwell which is held in the Village Hall on the third Monday of the month from 10.30am - 12.00pm, and provides social playtime and conversation for pre-school children and their families.

Our Parish Church holds a short, Family Service on the second Sunday of each month.