- Local Government
Beech Hill has two churches
The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, in the heart of the village was designed by William Buttefield and completed in 1867. It is built of local brick and Flint and is well endowed with stained glass windows produced by Gibbs and Kemp. The bell tower has three bells which can still be heard on special occasions. The church gained the status of a building of special architectural and historic interest in 1967. Over the years the building suffered serious damage from subsidence, so in 1997 extensive work was carried out to under-pin it, paid for by a grant of £150,000 from English Heritage and £45,000 raised by the 240 residents of Beech Hill.
The Church, originally part of the Diocese of Winchester was passed to the diocese of Oxford in 1869, and is now part of the Loddon Reach Benefice comprising the churches of All Saints in Swallowfield, St Mary in Shinfield, St Michael and All Angels in Spencers Wood, and St Mary the Virgin in Beech Hill. Our team vicar, Reverend Beatrice Pearson shares her duties between Beech Hill and Spencers Wood.
Our services include Holy Communion on the first Sunday, a Celtic Service on the second Sunday, which is a more contemplative service accompanied by a harp. A Parish Communion on the third Sunday and a Parish Praise on the fourth Sunday which is lay-led with the music by guitar . We also have a choir - new recruits always welcome.
For more information about the church and its services go to www.loddonreach.org.uk/st-mary-the-virgin-beech-hill
The Beech Hill Baptist Chapel is one of the oldest in the district, being founded in 1724, though for the first 70 years the congregation worshipped in the house next door to its present location, Chapel House, later renamed The Manse, and now Roff Cottage. The present building was erected in 1794. The chapel thrived during the first part of the 20th Century. In 1945 Beech Hill Baptist Chapel, Bethel Chapel, Riseley and the Shinfield Free Church joined together under the leadership of Rev Griffiths of Shinfield which led to the sale of The Manse as a new manse had been bought in Shinfield. The chapel suffered structural problems when in 1959 the outer wall was found to be bulging, and building inspectors closed it as being unsafe. However, despite the refusal of support from Berkshire Baptist Association and the Baptist Union, the trustees, congregation and friends raised sufficient funds to carry out repairs and re-opened the church 18 months later. When, in 1965, the Shinfield Free Church withdrew from the group, Beech Hill Baptist Church was once again on its own, and congregations started to decline. However, in 1981, thanks to the efforts of just a few members, essential building work was carried out and new life was breathed into the church. Since then the church has continued steadfastly and still holds both morning and evening worship services every Sunday at 10:30 and 18:30. There is a Bible Study and Prayer meeting every Wednesday evening held in members homes as well as regular Ladies Fellowship and Bible study meetings. Recent events have included the annual summer Songs of Praise in the Village Memorial Hall. To this day, the church remains firmly committed to the doctrines of grace and God’s sovereignty, having the historical 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith as its teaching standard.
More information about the church and its activities can be found on the Beech Hill Baptist Church website at www.bhbc.gb.com.