All four churches are open every day during daylight hours, so you should find it easy to visit at any time of the day. Because we rely on volunteers to lock and unlock, you may occasionally find the doors locked early, however every church gives details of someone local who will hold a key. If you need access to a specific purpose (for example wedding plans, florists, photographers and musicians) please contact us directly and we can make more detailed arrangements with you.
Occasionally we have had requests from pilgrims for a place to stay overnight. While we are happy to help with this, we may point you in the direction of a local safe space, especially during winter months when the internal temperature of our churches is not much better than it would be outside! Again, please contact us directly if this is something you need help with.
All our churches are constructed either in the Victorian period or before, and so in certain ways access is a bit of a challenge. However the following information should help you plan a visit:
All the churches can be accessed by mobility scooter or a wheelchair. In Chitterne there is a side entrance and a ramp which can be provided, but neither are open/available all the time. If you are planning to visit when there is not a service taking place, then it would be good to let us know in advance so that we can make the necessary arrangements.
If you use a stick, crutches or a walker then Orcheston and Tilshead have quite long paths to navigate. It is possible, if we know in advance, to park close to Orcheston church and avoid the path.
Once inside there is space in all 4 churches where a wheelchair or scooter can be located.
If you are planning to attend a service of Holy Communion we are very happy to come to you in your seat/pew. Just let us know when you arrive.
If you are gluten intolerant we do not currently have gluten free wafers, but we are happy to use one if you bring it yourself, and will also look into provision of gluten free wafers if they are requested in sufficient time.
If you are hard of hearing we do have a Loop system in Chitterne and Shrewton Churches. Tilshead currently has no amplification.
Shrewton church has a toilet inside the building, and space for baby change. We unfortunately do not have space for a child/adult size change facility in the church.
In Tilshead and Chitterne we are able to use the village hall’s toilet facilities. In Orcheston it is possible to use a toilet in a neighbouring house. If you think this is something you may need to access, please let us know before the service so that you can be confident about how to find it.
We have a small number of large print hymn books in Shrewton Church. We also endeavour to make our Orders of Service in large print.
We try to be a dementia friendly community, and are keen to support you in bringing friends or relatives into worship.
More than anything we are here to listen to you and to see what we can do to make your visit as accessible as possible. In recent years, for example, we have provided transport for an elderly parishioner with dementia to attend a familiar church service, and ensured she had company during the service. We have supported one of our musicians with dementia to continue to lead worship by ensuring they have been accompanied throughout the service. We have created a baptism service in consultation with a family who have children with autism and additional needs. We have moved our worship to a different part of the church in order to accommodate someone who needed to attend the service in a mobility scooter.
Of course we are also more than willing to visit you in your home and to bring communion to you. However, we understand that for many people it is really important to be able to continue to be within the heart of the worshipping church. Please let us know if there are things we can do to make this a reality for you.
Of course! We have many families of all shapes and sizes who make up our church community. Please feel welcome to be with us, and support your partner.
Apart from singing hymns and joining in prayers there are two points in the Holy Communion service which you might like to be prepared for. One is when we ‘share the Peace’. In our 4 churches people approach this in really different ways. In one church people politely nod their head to their neighbours, in another they get out of their seats and shake hands with everyone, offering hugs to those they know. We realise that for some people this is just a bit much, so you are completely welcome to just quietly sit down at this point in the service; it’s a kind of code to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’.
The other part is Holy Communion, when we receive bread and wine to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. If you aren’t religious, then it’s usual to just stay in your seat at this point in the service. You’ll soon notice that other people do that, and if someone kindly encourages you to go up to the altar rail they will completely understand if you just say ‘no thank you’. Of course, you may want to accompany your partner or child while they receive communion, and that’s fine too.
We offer a prayer of blessing to any who come up to the altar rail and don’t wish to receive communion. Usually the simplest way to let us know this is what you’re looking for is to keep your head bowed, or to bring your service booklet with you.
First of all, congratulations! We’d love to welcome you to one of the churches in the parish to celebrate your marriage.
There’s lots to talk through when it comes to weddings, so the simplest thing is probably to drop us a line on the Contact page. But here are a few things which may quickly answer your question:
If you or your parents have ever lived in one of the 4 villages in this parish for 6 months or more, the chances are you will be able to marry in our churches (there are other criteria which also may allow you to marry in one of the 4 churches)
If you have been married before but are now divorced, please drop us a line so we can chat through the options available to you (which do include marriage in church or blessing after a civil ceremony elsewhere)
Currently Church of England clergy are not permitted take a marriage service of a same sex couple in church. However, we are an inclusive church community and we’d love to offer prayers for you in celebration of your marriage. Please contact us so we can chat through options with you.
So the next step is to get in touch with us, but you may also like to look at the Church of England website yourchurchwedding.org for some more general information
The simple answer to your question is ‘Yes!’
We are very happy to welcome people of all ages for baptism (christening) in our churches. We also know that sometimes it’s important to mark a new beginning for a family, but that baptism isn’t quite what you’re looking for. We can also have a service of thanksgiving for the gift of a child, which can mark the new beginning for a family following adoption, or simply the gratitude that a couple feel after the safe arrival of a longed for child.
Sometimes the process of becoming a family is fraught with grief and anxiety, pain and danger. We can offer a quiet and safe space to mark the ending of that journey too, and the new adventure it represents.
If you’re not yet sure what it is that you’d like to do, we’d be more than happy to chat things through and help find the best solution for you and your family.
The vicar, churchwardens and PCC are responsible for the upkeep of the churchyards, and in our villages we are very kindly supported in keeping the grass down by our parish councils and a team of volunteers. The Diocese of Salisbury has certain regulations about churchyards, including about the type of headstone that may be used, decoration on graves, flowers, upkeep and so on. You can read about these here.
If you are worried about a particular grave then it is simplest to get in touch directly with the Rector using our Contact page. If you simply want to find a relative then we also have plans of the churchyards, and should be able to help you with the details you require.
In total we are responsible for 8 churchyards:
Shrewton, St Mary
Maddington, St Mary
Rollestone, St Andrew
Orcheston, St George
Orcheston, St Mary
Tilshead, St Thomas á Becket
Chitterne, St Mary’s Chancel
Chitterne, All Saints
I’m sure none of you would actually phrase this question to our faces, but we know that many people do wonder not only what the vicar actually does, but also what the church is for. So hopefully we can answer this for you a little bit here.
The Church of England wants to be a ‘Christian Presence in every community’, and that is a really helpful short summary of what we are here for and what we do. But in practice that means ‘lots’! On a weekly basis, yes we have services in church, and in our homes, we offer prayers every day for our community and for the wider world, and we try to share our learning about the faith through Bible Studies and teaching.
But we also spend time in our Church schools, reading with the children, serving as governors, helping on trips, occasionally teaching RE, leading worship, making things, and helping the school community think about each stage of their life together- as they arrive, as they leave, and whatever they encounter along the way. As a church community, we also like to look outwards into our villages and the wider area. There are a huge number of volunteers who not only do the -boring but necessary- cleaning, grass cutting and tidying, but also serve food and drink, offer hospitality, ring bells, sing in choirs, accompany services.
And then there are those who help collect food for the Trussell Trust and Alabare, who volunteer in the Day Centre, or who host our younger community at activity mornings and seasonal events. The clergy and specially trained pastoral workers visit those who are unwell or stuck at home, often working in partnership with younger generation to support the very elderly who wish to continue to live independently. We work with our local GPs and carers, and keep in touch with other community groups so we can do projects together to benefit our community.
We’ve hosted Dementia Friends’ training, contributed to village welcome packs, worked with the local Royal British Legion to commemorate our war dead, and met with Parish Councils to share responsibility for our churchyards and buildings. In Shrewton we also have a Church Hall which is primarily used by the local Scout Group, but is also run as a beautiful facility for private events such as parties and meetings.
The clergy also support couples as they prepare to marry, families when they are in difficulty of any kind, couples struggling with relationship problems, those who are caring for very sick relatives and those who are dying. We will come to you if you need us, and we are always ready to offer support and advice, especially when you have been bereaved. We don’t mind if you’re ‘not religious’, as long as you don’t mind!
The church isn’t here as a cosy club, but – we hope- as a sign of friendship, love and support to those around us. Jesus didn’t say ‘I’ve come so you can all learn how to go to church.’ He actually said ‘I am come that they might have life, and have it abundantly’. So that’s as good a place to start as any!