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



NSPCC - For adults concerned about a child: 0808 800 5000

ChildLine - For children and young people on: 0800 1111

Action on Elder Abuse helpline: 0808 808 8141

24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247

NAPAC – Offer support and advice to adult survivors of childhood abuse: 0808 801 0331

Stop It Now – preventing child sexual abuse: 0808 1000 900

Cruse – bereavement helpline: 0808 808 1677

The Downs Benefice Summer Walks

19th to 24th August 2019



Put these dates into your diary and join us during our week
of walks this summer.


See Week_of_Walks for full details and forms


It is for all of the communities of Chilbolton, Crawley, Littleton, Sparsholt and Wherwell: all are welcome.


There will be six full-length walks of between 8.5 and 9.5 miles and also eight half-day walks of about 4 to 5 miles.
Two years ago, we had about 100 walkers who each walked on average 2.2 walks.

It is hoped that all five communities will support this initiative.

Citizens Advice - Winchester District

has now officially opened its doors at their new location on Colebrook Street in Winchester, next to Winchester City Council offices. 

If you need advice you can visit the office during the following times:

Monday: 10:00-16:00

Tuesday 10:00-13:00

Wednesday 10:00-16:00

Thursday 10:00-16:00

Friday 10:00-13:00

Or alternatively call the Adviceline on: 03444 111 306

or visit 

Parish Magazine Deadline

Copy for October/November edition of the Benefice Parish Magazine should be submitted by 12.00 noon - Friday 6th September.

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.