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.


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 73107667


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

pastoral assistant

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 .


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