Welcome to the Upper Kennet Benefice

Welcome to the Upper Kennet Benefice.  Comprised of 8 villages and their churches, our benefice is blessed by being in an area of outstanding natural beauty which includes the UNESCO World Heritage site of Avebury.  As Christians we are working out what it means to follow Jesus and we invite you, whatever your situation and wherever you are on your journey, to join us.

For more videos as they are published – subscribe to our YouTube channel UpperKennetCurches.
We are also live streaming and keeping in daily touch through facebook. Search for our page Upper Kennet Churches and give us a like.
You can also find  some of our archive material on the Services and Events page, near the bottom. 

Corona Virus and latest news - January 20th

We will CONTINUE to offer a mix of online weekly worship and worship in one or more of our churches FOR AS LONG AS IT IS DEEMED SAFE TO DO SO. We have been experimenting with videoing services and they can be found on our YouTube channel. The filming is done sensitively and there are places to sit out of camera view if you so wish. Please make this known to our vergers/wardens when you arrive. Not all services are being filmed – it depends on size and layout of church and availability of the volunteer videographer We regret we cannot live stream from our church buildings due to lack of Wifi, poor or non- existent mobile phone coverage locally and financial constraints.

For a link to our Zoom services email: revmariashepherdson@outlook.com.

For all services please see the Monthly Calendar. Liturgy and  video services are also available on the Services and events page

To get information on current church services go to  Upper Kennet News.

Editions – Upper Kennet News
The Upper Kennet News is published monthly and distributed freely. The views expressed in the Upper Kennet News are those of the individual contributors.


What to expect

Your health is of paramount importance, and we have followed regulations and made some changes within the churches. The government also requires a COVID-19 risk assessment to be carried out for every building and site open to the public, which we have done.


• Hand sanitiser will be available for use as you arrive and leave.
• Church doors will be open and where applicable the pew doors will be open, welcoming you to sit or kneel for prayer, using alternate pews in order to comply with social distancing regulations.
• There will be laminated signs within the pews (green tick (ie safe to sit/ kneel) and red no-entry (ie unsafe)). Please turn the tick sign over to show the no-entry, when you leave, indicating where you have been sitting. This is a message to each other for our ongoing safety.

The churches will close between Prayer times for 72 hours in line with government recommendations as we do not have the personnel available to offer twice daily antiviral cleaning. While we will do all we can to ensure your ongoing health, we do all need to take personal responsibility, too.

Please let us know if you develop symptoms of Covid 19 in the week immediately following your visit as we would need to shut the church for 72 hours, to ensure everyone’s safety.

Do enjoy a quiet prayer in our beautiful churches and do feel free to contact us if a chat would be helpful.

A Prayer

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy. Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Funerals and Weddings

  • Weddings – we are delighted we can welcome up to Max 30 people excluding officiants, Face mask for all except priest bride and groom still mandatory.
  • Baptisms – 30 Maximum for the moment and the Rector will discuss the arrangements in greater detail with each family.
  • Funerals – May be more than 30 up to the Maximum number each individual church can manage under a full risk Assessment – we will do all we can to make sure the most people are welcomed taking all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of coronavirus.

Private Prayer
Our churches are opening for private prayer at set times. These will vary from church to church because of the need to ensure proper time is left between visits and cleaning in line with HSE regulations for COVID 19. Please see church notice boards and the Upper Kennet Churches and Village Facebook pages for details of individual churches.

Avebury church is currently NOT open to tourists. We are considering the extensive legislation and requirements we will need to meet in order to do so and will be taking a decision between now and end of July.

Offer Each Day as a Worship

An alternative Covid 2020 day by day of prayer ( inspired by a Bishop Friend in USA)

On Rising

May the bird song of the morning be a hymn of praise to you Oh Lord
May my feet on the floor and the first daily step be a sign that I Walk In Your Way
May the water that washes my face and body be a sign of you washing away all that is not good in my life
May the towel that dries me be a sign of your forgiveness

On Hearing

The news that causes my heart to tighten and my soul to ache
May this be the Kyrie –
Lord Have Mercy

On Speaking

Words of hope, support encouragement, singing along to a favorite song or Radio 2
May this be
A hymn of Praise

On Feeling Despondent

Low spirits, tears, soul aches, loneliness, anxiety
May these and more be prayers in your eyes

On Working

Endless emails, uncertainty on furlough, fearful for the future, swamped by the present, longing for a holiday, or time with my loved ones, working from a noisy kitchen while teaching the kids May these be times when I hear your Word ‘BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD’ as you preach

On Eating

In the prepping of a meal, the sitting at a table, the aloneness or in company, May I remember to value each bite, and taste and texture, grateful for creation, and in it find Eucharist

On End

As my head hits the pillow and I stretch out my limbs May all I have done and said and thought be for you a Vesper Hymn


The PCCs of the Upper Kennet Benefice have formally adopted the House of Bishops’ Promoting a Safer Church; Safeguarding Policy Statement and reviews this policy annually at APCM .
This is the  Parish Policy Statement

We take the Safeguarding of Young People and Vulnerable Adults very seriously and are committed to providing a safe space for all to gather for worship and community fellowship. All PCC members, post holders and licenced Clergy and Lay ministers are trained to appropriate levels under the Diocese of Salisbury Safeguarding Policies. A copy of these can be found in each of our churches along with a list of helpful contacts and phone numbers for national and local help organisations.

Benefice Safeguarding Officers

Children and Young People

Mrs Elizabeth Daley

01672 539277 


Mr Rod Palfrey

01793 731067


Rev Maria Shepherdson

01672 539643

Diocesan Safeguarding Team

Mrs Heather Bland

01722 411922
07500 664800

Who's Who

Portrait of Rev Maria Shepherdson



Rev Maria has been Rector of the Benefice for over 7 years and is married to Phil, a New Zealander, whom she met while working in North Africa. While not blessed with children of their own they often joke that their children are aged between 3 months and 96 years of age and are far too many to mention! Their family encompasses people of varied races and faiths something that brings both great joy and challenge.

Her first vocation was in teaching. Her work has taken her to Africa, Russia, Canada, USA and more recently Gaza, where she is involved in Teacher Training for The Hope Christian Trust. She is a Foundation Governor at both Benefice primary schools. The Benefice enjoys a rich diversity of worship, traditional and contemporary, and Maria has a deep and abiding interest in all things Celtic and has been known to play a ‘mean’ fiddle.

Rev Maria believes God loves us ‘just as we are’ but cares too much for us to leave us unchanged.

To contact Rev Maria please phone 01672 539643.

Graham kitchen

pastoral assistant

Graham has been a Licensed Pastoral Assistant for over 7 years and lives in East Kennett. 

His ministry includes providing pastoral support for people who are ill, bereaved or house bound and leading Worship, especially Taizé and Evening Prayer at East Kennett.  


Claire Styles


Claire has been a Licensed Pastoral Assistant for over 7 years and lives in Winterbourne Bassett.  

She is also a Lay Worship Leader and leads a service of Morning Prayer regularly at Winterbourne Bassett, and helps occasionally at Celtic Morning Prayer at Avebury. 

Claire is also involved with Prospect Hospice, Wroughton, working alongside both patients and carers, an aspect of ministry she enjoys greatly .


Sibella Laing

Licenced Lay Minister

Sibella joined the team in late 2019 and brings a wealth of experience in serving in the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf and in academia.

While living in the old family home in West Overton , she will exercise her ministry across all the churches of the Benefice, contributing to the development of prayer, leading of services and pastoral care of all.

Anne Robinson & Sophie roberts

Benefice administrator

Anne shares the role of Benefice Administrator with her colleague Sophie. 

Anne has offered valuable support for over 16 years to all who contact the office. Sophie joined the team in August 2018 and comes with a wealth of experience including working as Clerk for the local Parish Council. Anne and Sophie may be your first point of contact to book a baptism or a wedding or make general enquires about our Benefice – you are assured of a warm welcome and every assistance they can offer.

Letter from the Rector

We are ordinary people from 8 villages that make up the Upper Kennet Benefice.  We are blessed to live in an area of outstanding natural beauty and together we are working out what it means to follow Jesus.  Our pilgrim history runs deep and we welcome thousands of visitors each year from all nations and all faiths visiting the World Heritage Site of Avebury and environs.

Whatever your situation and wherever you are on your journey, you are warmly invited to join us on ours alongside Him to where he will have us walk together.

As followers of Jesus we want to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to ALL and be ‘good news’ by serving and loving those around us.  We welcome you if you come to give thanks or because you are facing difficult times, if you would like your child to be christened, or you would like to get married or to arrange a funeral, if you have a strong faith or are not sure you have any.  Our vision is to be the heart of the church sharing God’s love in and around the community.

I hope you will find in each of the churches of the Kennet Valley a place of welcome, safety, joy, and peace- a place where we can accept and meet each other, just as we are, in God’s presence and within Gods love.  Come with an open mind and in the knowledge that we are all pilgrims together, searching, seeking and questioning.  Come not because you must but because you can, come not because you are good but because we are all imperfect, come in quiet solitude, or to a festival, come often or less than often, come because you are grieving or because you wish to give thanks, come expecting to find others just like you, looking for meaning and purpose and searching for that something more some of us find easier than others to call God. 

These are YOUR churches, whatever your age, background or beliefs, from all church traditions or a newcomer to Jesus, an enquirer; a doubter; a struggler with life’s complexities; someone who is thinking about coming back to church after a while; or just someone who wants simply to come and sit quietly at the back.  However you come to be here, Welcome Pilgrim. Welcome home.

Rev Maria Shepherdson

Our Churches