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



An Autumn Programme of Meditations at Wherwell Church

Following our meditation on Hildegarte von Bingen in September, in October and November we will be meditating on the lives of two more Christian mystics: St Francis of Assisi and Julian of Norwich.

These reflections can provide a useful focus for thoughts on the meaning and purpose of our dailys lives, and are interspersed with passages from the subject's works and carefully chosen music.

The last meditation starts at 6.00pm in the church and will last approximately 30 minutes, and will be followed by refreshments.


26 November - Julian of Norwich, anchoress theologian, writer: 1342-1416 AD.

St Catherine's Patronal Festival - 26th November

The service will start at 11.00am and will be followed by a 'Bring and Share' lunch in the church room. Please notify Clive Thomsett if you intend coming to the service, lunch or both.

Clive - 01962 885039/

Christmas Fair - Sunday 26th November, 2.00-4.00pm - Chilbolton Village Hall

(Proceeds to St Mary the Less)

Craft stalls, gifts, cakes, handmade cards, preserves, beauty products. Children's craft activity, seasonal refreshments and mulled wine. Bottle Tombola and Grand Draw. Free entrance.

Donations for the raffle may be left in basket in village shop.

Wherwell Christmas Fayre - Sunday 3rd December, 3.00pm - Wherwell Village Hall

Followed by Candlelight Procession to the church and Advent service at 5.30pm. More details to follow next week.

Please hold the date in your diaries!


Rydal 2018: Saturday 26th May - Saturday 2nd June

This popular Downs Benefice holiday in the Lake District will definitely take place in May 2018. The benefice has been going to the Lake District every other year since 1990 and the fact that so many people keep returning shows that it is a really enjoyable and memorable holiday.

At the back of each church in the Benefice there is a letter giving a fuller description of what happens at Rydal and the costs. Do please pick up a copy and consider joining us. You will be most welcome.


Contact Eryl or Clive thompsett - 01962 885039/ to learn more about Rydal and to indicate your possible interest in joining us.

The Vine Trust - volunteers

The Vine Trust is urgently looking for volunteers to help in their Christian Bookshop in Bridge Street, Andover. They especially need help on Monday afternoons, Thursday mornings and Saturdays.

The Vine Trust Bookshop is open 6 days a week from 10.00am to 4.00pm. They operate two shifts per day 10am-1ppm and 1pm-4pm and are looking for volunteers to help with either a 1/2 or full day.

Please contact Brenda Sleath on 01264 355706 or email or call into the shop to find out more.


One Giant Leap!

Caroline McAulay and Carol Ward would like to thank everyone who supported their sponsored skydive last Sunday.  You may be relieved to know they landed safely after an exhilarating jump, and have raised over £3500 for the Alzheimer’s Society.



Winchester Street Reach

Many of us will have learnt about this detached youthwork project during our Lent series earlier this year. A 'Friends of Street Reach' membership is being put together where one can make a regular donation and in return receive newsletters, regular updates and more.

If interested, please contact Ben Martin, Project Manager, Street Reach: 

Food Handling Training

Are there occasions when you help out at Church functions, perhaps preparing or serving food? Good practice requires those who do so to undertake 'training'. It would be really helpful if we had a cohort of people in the Benefice who have undertaken such training, or even completed food handling courses and obtained certificates, so that we, as a Benefice, meet current standards. Ruth Myers, of St Catherine's PCC, has recently run a morning for those who cook for the Littleton Lunch Club, and has offered to signpost this training, which is available free on-line, to anyone who would like to undertake it. Please contact Ruth by email: for further information.

Peace and Wholeness Service

Coming to a church near you! is a new idea to help people get to the Benefice Service of Peace and Wholeness.  There will be an advert placed in the church porch asking for volunteers to drive to the service once a month. The thinking behind this is that many people don't like driving in the dark and in the winter so a 'Good Neighbour Taxi Service' may enable a few more people to access this special service. There will be a leaflet left in the churches which will explain more about the service, along with dates and how to volunteer.

St Catherine's, Littleton, car-ferry system

St Catherine's currently provide a car-ferry system to enable Sunrise residents and our regular congregation (who temporarily or permanently cannot drive) to attend Sunday Services. This is much appreciated by the users. The numbers of people using the service has grown and we need a few more volunteers to make their car available. If you feel able to offer help, can you please let one of the church wardens know? Dates are pre-agreed with each driver and the aim is to try and ensure that drivers do not exceed two/three Sundays a quarter (depends, of course, on numbers of volunteers).

Please do volunteer if you can. It is such a vital contribution to the wellbeing of parishioners.

Parish Magazine Deadline

A reminder that copy for the Dec/Jan edition of the Benefice Parish Magazine should be submitted by 12.00 noon, Monday 6th Nov at the latest. Details of where to send your article or information can be found in the current magazine



 Sparsholt 100 Club

The Sparsholt 100 Club is a lottery, licensed by Winchester City Council and organised through Sparsholt Parochial Church Council and The Friends of St. Stephen's Church Sparsholt, for residents in and local to Sparsholt. There is a monthly subscription of £10 and a prize draw four times a year with a first prize of £100 and three further prizes of £50. Winners will be contacted personally, and names posted in the village shop.

By joining you will help to raise much needed funds in a very good cause which is to keep the church open and well maintained. Membership is by invitation and is limited to 100 members. A membership application form can be obtained from the Sparsholt village shop or from the membership secretary who is Ian Hay at Victoria Cottage, Dean Lane, Sparsholt, Tel. 01962 776 468.

 Bible Study Materials

Over the years the Littleton Mid-week House Group has used a variety of study guides to aid our discussions, and has built up quite a collection of surplus copies. We feel that these would be of benefit to other house groups, or individuals wishing to study particular Bible books or topics, and so have put them in the tall cupboard at the back of the Littleton Church Room. Pleae help yourself to any that you would like - the room is normally accessible during Benefice Office opening hours (subject to bookings).

 Live the Mission

The first issue of Live the Mission, sharing what parishes are doing across the Winchester Diocese will be available from September. Live the Mission will be a monthly newsletter which can be downloaded in different formats from the Diocesan website:


Benefice Office open daily 9am-5pm; E-mail Tel: 01962 880845