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

Carols at The Running Horse, Littleton

On Thursday 13th December starting at 7pm, patrons of The Running Horse will be entertained by Carol Singing (with a chance to join in).  If you are interested in being one of the Carol Singers, please contact the Benefice Office on 01962 880 845 or  Otherwise, do come along, join in and get into the spirit of Christmas.

'Carols on the Green'

Monday 17th December - 6pm

Start the countdown to Christmas and come along to Woodman Close, Sparsholt at 6pm on Monday 17th December to sing Carols.

Advent Compline with Music - led by Dale Webb

Friday 21st December - 6.30pm

St Peter and Holy Cross, Wherwell

For full details please click Advent_Compline_-_21st_December_2018.

Alpha is coming!

Starts 13th January 2019.

For more details, please click Alpha_Course_-_January_2019

Benefice Baptism Team

Would you be interested in becoming part of the Baptism Team?

For more details please see  Notices

Parish Magazine Deadline

Copy for February/March edition of the Benefice Parish Magazine should be submitted by 12.00 noon - 7th January.

Frequently Asked Questions

We would like to welcome you into our church.

How long are the services?

Our services usually start pretty promptly and last on average an hour and a quarter.

Refreshments will be served after the service to give us all the chance to get to know one another.

What shall I wear?

Some people like to wear fairly formal clothes [e.g. suit and tie] but many others wear casual clothes, and clean jeans are quite acceptable these days. Very few women wear hats or cover their heads.

What do I do?

When you arrive at the church you will be handed a hymn book, a service booklet, and sometimes a prayerbook. Then go and sit in any convenient pew. People will sit for a little to gather their thoughts and maybe say a prayer, and it is also a good time to look at your service booklet. This gives information not only on what will be said and done, but also, on the left-hand side, some reasons why. At this time the organist will be playing and, if the church has bells, they will be ringing.

What happens when the Minister arrives?

When the Minister arrives in the church everyone gets up and the service begins. Your service booklet will tell you when to get up and sit down, and the Minister will usually announce this as well. In the service book you will find that the words the Minister says are in normal type and the responses that you say are in bold type. When prayers are said it is customary either to kneel on one of the cushions hung on the seat in front of you, or you can simply sit with your head bent.

What if I have difficulty hearing?

At some point in the service there will be an address or sermon. These are a good deal shorter and livelier than in the past and well worth listening to! If you wear a hearing aid the churches all have loops.

What happens in "The Peace"?

In many of our churches we observe "The Peace". When the Minister says "Let us offer one another a sign of peace", you just shake hands with the people near you and say to one another "Peace be with you".

What do I do at communion?

If it is a Communion service the congregation will be invited to come up to the altar rail, row by row, and kneel to receive first the bread and then the wine. If you do not wish to receive Communion, just wait quietly in the pew - you will probably not be alone. Alternatively, you might like to go up to the altar rail and kneel with your hands by your sides, and you will receive a blessing.

Will there be a collection?

The hymn one before last one is announced as the "Offertory" hymn. This is when a collection will take place. You will be handed a pouch into which you can put some money. If you didn't bring any, just hand it along to the next person. If you pay a higher rate of tax it would be enormously helpful if you could fill in one of the envelopes at the back of the church and put the money in it so the tax can be reclaimed by the church.

What happens at the end of the service?

At the end of the service the Minister will pronounce the blessing and walk to the back of the church. The organist will play, and most people sit quietly to gather their thoughts again and say a final prayer. Sometimes we have coffee!

Can I meet the Minister?

The Minister will be at the door as you leave, so do introduce yourself, as he or she will want to know about you. 

Do I have to take part?

Remember that if you would simply like to sit at the back for a few services and not take part at all, we will still be very pleased to see you!

Are there facilities for children?

A new service will take place in Sparsholt on the 2nd Sunday of each month

This service is the first of a new series we are introducing which will be a shorter service in which children will be especially welcome. There is now a children's corner in the church with activities for younger ones during the service. However, Welcome Worship will be informal and fairly active so we hope that all members of the congregation, adults and children alike, will be happy to take part.