The Benefice of St. Bartholomew
Welcome to the website for the Benefice of St Bartholomew
- Written by Tony Gowers
The Benefice of St Bartholomew covers almost 30 square miles in the south west corner of Wiltshire. Most of the Benefice lies within the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with its exceptional landscapes and superb scenery. The Benefice includes the following parishes: Donhead St Mary with Charlton, Donhead St Andrew, East Knoyle, Semley and Sedgehill.
This site will tell you about our six Churches: St. John the Baptist Church in Charlton, St. Andrew's Church in Donhead St. Andrew, St Mary's Church in Donhead St. Mary, St. Mary's Church in East Knoyle, St. Catherine's Church in Sedgehill and St Leonard's Church in Semley.
The site also describes:
- The services and events which have been arranged for the whole Benefice.
- The activities organised for children and younger people in the Benefice.
You can also find us on Facebook - www.facebook.com/beneficeofstbartholomew
If you have an item that you would like to be included on this website or have suggestions on how we can improve the site, please click here.
Latest News And Forthcoming Services & Events
Plough Sunday, Semley - 15th January 2017
- Written by Tony Gowers
A Celebration of the Agricultural Year
St Leonard's Church, Semley
Sunday 15th January 2017
at 7.00 pm
Mulled cider and victuals afterwards
All are most welcome
Come, all you jolly ploughmen, of courage stout and bold
That labour all the winter in stormy winds, and cold;
To clothe the fields with plenty, your farm-yards to renew,
To crown with contentment, behold the painful plough!
From the Rector - December 2016
- Written by Rev'd Richard Warhurst
I hope that you have a holy Advent Season and on behalf of all our church communities in the Benefice, I also pray you have a holy and blessed Christmas and New Year. I hope to see you over the Christmas period.
I also hope you have already seen news about our revision of the pattern of service, but I am aware that some people, who I expected might have, have not. I have therefore given my space over to one of our Churchwardens, Bob Thackray, who will explain the changes below, and for which I am very grateful .............
*** IMPORTANT NEWS ***
From Bob Thackray
When a group of parishioners from the five parishes that make up our Benefice met in May 2016 to discuss the possible revision of the Sunday service rota, the last thing that any of us expected was speedy agreement.
The first step was to try to understand why any change was considered necessary.
The Benefice has one priest, Richard. Those others who often take services are retired clergy who help us out of the kindness of their hearts. They will continue to do so whenever they can, but we must have a rota that can, if necessary, be operated by one priest with the help of lay leaders. With that in mind, the timings have been altered to make possible the journey from, for instance, East Knoyle to Charlton between services.
We have all noticed with some frustration the Sundays when there seem to be identical services at the same time at churches that are little more than a stone's throw apart. The new rota needed to ensure that there is one of each type of service somewhere in the Benefice on each Sunday. A balance should also be achieved between the two ends of the Benefice.
Within the bounds of these two principles, the working group quickly came up with a workable solution that gave each parish the range of services that they requested. Compromises had to be made over exact timing, and parishes had to accept that some of their services would be on different Sundays in the month — but beyond that, all fitted in well.
It is hoped that the new arrangements will provide much more for families with children. The 9.30am Sung Eucharist each week will develop to include ‘Sunday School’ activities for children in another space and also a musician and choir of adults and children moving around the Benefice with this service.
There will also be a Family Service each week for those who like something less formal which includes both children and adults throughout the worship. The Family Communion at Charlton on the third Sunday will provide a bridge for children between Family Service and the Sung Eucharist.
All 8.30am communions, 11.00am Matins and 6.00pm Evensong services will follow the Book of Common Prayer.
We have created a rota that covers the four Sundays of each month. When there is a fifth Sunday, and also on the Sundays following Christmas and Easter, there will always be just two services, a Sung Eucharist with no provision for children at Sedgehill, and a Family Service run by a team from across the Benefice at Charlton. The real hope is that churchgoers will pick the services that suit them best, wherever they are held. We are one Benefice and can keep our parish allegiances whilst moving around to worship in ways that best suit us.
The new rota will begin on 1st January 2017 with a Benefice Sung Eucharist at Sedgehill at 9.30am and a Family Service at Charlton at 11.00am. This may seem the worst possible day to launch anything new, but you are urged to put aside your headache from the night before and to venture out to one or other place. As an incentive, the hospitality following the Sedgehill Service is legendary, whilst Charlton will be serving a restorative cup of tea or coffee from 10.30am.
See you there!
PS. Click here to view, download and/or print a copy of the new pattern of services.
Visit to Alton Abbey - October 2016
- Written by Tony Gowers
During October 2016, five parishioners together with our Rector, Fr Richard, spent four days at Alton Abbey in Hampshire. This is a Benedictine Order within the Church of England. We were to share with the monks in their worship and hospitality.
On arrival we were greeted by the Guestmaster, Br. John. After a cup of tea and a plate of Fondant Fancies, (a horrific pink), we were given keys to our rooms and shown to the sitting room, which was to be our base. It was good to see a log-burning stove and comfortable armchairs.
Having made ourselves at home, we joined the monks for Evening Prayer in the church at a quarter to five. Fr Richard sat in choir with the monks — he was very much at home. Supper followed in the Refectory and we quickly adapted to silent meals.
That evening Dom Anselm talked to us about prayer and in our discussion, he was easily distracted to talk about his love of opera and visits to Glyndebourne.
Night Prayer was at half past eight and for the monks, the Greater Silence was observed. We, however, made our way to the sitting room. In front of a warm fire, we made ourselves comfortable. Glasses were produced, as was a bottle of gin, kindly offered by Fr Richard. Once ice had been located, we settled down to a relaxing time.
The next morning, having been woken by the ringing of the Angelus, just as well because my alarm clock failed, we went to the church for Meditation at half past six. That was followed by Morning Prayer and breakfast. Mass was at nine o'clock, and for that we were joined by some friends from the local area, whom we met at the coffee that followed in the Guest House. The church is open at all times and at major festivals extra chairs have to be found.
We met with Dom Anselm for other talks and also with the Abbot. The topics were wide ranging and including parking fines and Speed Awareness courses. There was much laughter.
On our final day, the Abbot relaxed the rule of silent lunch and that concluded our visit. Dom Anselm produced what he described as a rough claret. I am not sure I agreed but it was certainly enhanced by an interesting decanter, which had been found at a church bazaar.
I am sure that there will be another chance to visit Alton Abbey, although those wishing to make a retreat can arrange it for themselves.
It is good to know that within the Church of England, there is this daily prayer and silent witness. We cannot achieve this easily in our busy lives, but to support the monks by a visit is something well worth doing.