CHURCHES IN THE UNITED BENEFICE OF WEST WOODHAY WITH ENBORNE, HAMSTEAD MARSHALL, INKPEN, COMBE, AND KINTBURY WITH AVINGTON
(The West Berks Cluster)
The United Benefice was formed in 1981, the Rector being the Revd Richard Jeans. In 1994 the living of the Benefice of Kintbury with Avington, was suspended and in 2006, the two parishes were added to the United Benefice of West Woodhay and formed the West Berks Cluster under the Team Rector, the Revd Julie Ramsbottom.
We are all rural parishes facing the pressures that all rural parishes endure. However, the Christian faith is strong and our churches stand as visible expressions of our faith.
Each church is set in beautiful surroundings, is a place of prayer and spiritual refreshment and holder of many valuable historical memories and monuments.
ST MARY, HAMSTEAD MARS HALL
Once a field church served by Kintbury, the oldest surviving part is the late Norman doorway in the south porch. Becoming an independent parish in 1241, the church was little altered until a radical reconstruction in 1622. A red brick tower was added. The two-decker pulpit, rector's stall, font cover and the oldest chalice were given by Dorothy Parry. The Jacobean style communion rail was added in 1700 and the wooden reredos in the 18th century.
In 1893, the fabric was in need of much restoration. The Jacobean pews were restored, the roof and fabric repaired, revealing some long lost features. These included an early English chancel arch, the remains of a squint, and the tomb of Sir Balthasar Gerbier (architect of the 'palace' once adjacent to the church). There are two bells dated 1592 and 1756. The parish has a fascinating history and several kings have prayed in this church.
The Millennium Window contains many symbols of the parish.