St Mary's Church
The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Chieveley, stands with distinction in the Downland. It is a lively community and we hope that you will find us welcoming. The building is at Church Lane, Chieveley RG20 8UT (the building is marked on the map in the header bar). We are part of the East Downland Benefice, Newbury Deanery, Diocese of Oxford and Church of England.
Rector and Clergy
Our Priest is Revd. John Toogood, of The Vicarage, Church Lane, Chieveley. He is supported by Revd Douglas Dales, and Revd William McDowell. Revd Lady Denise Brown is a retired priest within the benefice.
What you can expect at the services
Parish Communion: This service is common in form with most other Church of England as well as other denominations. It normally starts at 09:30 and has four hymns, a sermon, readings and communion. Refreshments follow.
United Benefice Service: Once a month, we meet as a benefice. From 0930 to around 1030 we have a service that follows the same form as parish communion. We then have coffee and fresh cakes / biscuits. An informal “Café Church” service follows from 1100 to around 1145. Some stay from the united benefice service, others come from coffee. During the rugby season, this service is held at 1700, with coffee and cake from 1630.
Evensong: This beautiful choral evensong service is led by the Choir and follows the 1662 Prayer Book form.
Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals
Did you know that whoever you are, wherever you live, you’re allowed to hold your ‘significant event’ in a Church of England? Be it a rejoicing over a new life, remembering someone who has passed away or even the excitement of a wedding, you can do any or all of those things here at St Mary’s.
Baptism: A Baptism Service (sometimes called a Christening) is a chance to gather your family and friends together in Church to welcome your child. It’s also a mark of Christian faith and welcoming someone new into God’s family. We run a short Baptism Preparation Course so you know what you’re promising on behalf of your child. Baptisms can take place as part of a normal Sunday service as the regular congregation have promises to make in the service too, or at other times by arrangement.
Weddings: Congratulations – we absolutely love weddings! It’s an exciting time for you as you plan your big day, so if you are planning to get married then please contact us.
Funerals: As an Anglican church we conduct funerals and thanksgiving services and offer ongoing support to those bereaved. Ordained members of the team are able to take services at the local crematoriums or here at St Mary’s Church.
We are always happy and willing to help with general enquiries and information. Please do contact us via email.
Chieveley Church is proud of the high level of participation that parishioners have in the life of the community. Here are some of those that are going on and contacts to get started.......
The choir sings in all the main services and practices in the church on Wednesday evenings at 1830. There is usually a crescendo of activity before the major feasts (Christmas in particular). There are also occasional concerts.
Please contact Jill Martin or just turn up looking keen if you would like to give it a go.
There are groups of parishioners who meet regularly for prayer. This vital part of the church's life goes on every day. If you would like more information please contact Kay for details of when groups meet.
Friends of Chieveley Church
The Friends of St Mary’s is an independent charity that supports the fabric of the church and churchyard. This is a way in which parishioners and others who are not members of the church can contribute to the maintenance of the facility. Please also see their page.
The building is beautiful and needs constant maintenance and cleaning. The churchyard is verdant and insists on growing. Your assistance inside or out to keep the place in order as the house of God and a pleasure for the community is ever sought. Paul Medley organises the churchyard rota and would gladly accommodate you if you would like to join.
The tower has 8 fine bells and a band that knows how to use them. Practice is on Wednesday nights from 2000 and the band also rings at Peasemore on Thursdays. In addition to the normal services the bells are also rung for weddings and funerals. Rod Brown would be delighted to hear of your interest.
Coffee and biscuits are served at the end of most services as a happy tradition. It is a gentle way to meet and get to know people. Pat Brown organises the rota.
A group of arrangers brings light, fragrance and beauty to the church every week. We also put on occasional flower festivals that takes this to artistic extremes. Julie Illsley would be most grateful for your help with regular arranging or special occasions. Julie is also the contact for those wishing to provide flowers for weddings, christenings and funerals.
The sidesmen welcome the congregation and support them in settling in. We very much hope that you find us welcoming. Jill Love arranges the rota.
There are many more activities that go on behind the scenes. Whatever your talents, from organising a family service to singing in the choir, prayer or polishing brass, please get involved!
Giving to St Mary's
We ask every church member to give regularly to support the work of our church, because we, the church members, are responsible for:
- Paying the clergy: they underpin our youth and children and families work, our administration and our worship
- All our day to day running costs
- The upkeep of our buildings and grounds, heat, light and power
- Contributing our share to the running costs of our Diocese of Oxford
- Our charitable work and mission in the community
We encourage all our church members to adopt proportional giving. Giving a percentage of our income is a fair standard of giving for everyone.
In common with many other parishes across the country, we use the Parish Giving Scheme which provides central administration services for us to support our gift aid operations. All funds sent by you to the Parish Giving Scheme flow directly to us without any deduction of service costs.
If you have any questions about regular giving, or anything relating to St Mary’s, please feel free to talk to Will Hooper. He can also help you if you are considering a legacy in your will.
The History of St Mary's
The earliest existing part of the church is the largely 13th century chancel, although there was originally a Saxon church on the site. No trace remains, either of that or of the probably late-Norman church which succeeded it. The most conspicuous feature of the chancel is the 15th century oak beam which originally carried the Lenten Veil during Lent until the practice was suppressed at the Reformation.
The entire nave, originally 12-13th century, was rebuilt in 1872-3 at the instigation of the then incumbent, when the south door was moved and a pseudo-Norman porch added. There is a 15th century font, a painting of the Royal Arms dating from the reign of Queen Anne and a Jacobean pulpit.
The external walls of the church are mainly flint and contain pieces of stonework from the earlier building.
A comprehensive guide to St Mary’s and its history is available in the church.