All Saints Church, Dunsden

All Saints Church, Dunsden serves the communities of Dunsden and Binfield Heath, with some of our congregation coming from Emmer Green, Caversham and beyond. We have a sung Holy Communion service most Sundays, but regular Benefice Services are held when we join with our sister churches either at Dunsden, Shiplake or Harpsden.  Elsewhere on the website you can see when these are to take place.  Visitors and newcomers are always welcome and we’d be delighted if you’d like to join us.  Children are also very welcome and we have toys and books at the back of the church to occupy them during the services.

Dunsden Parish was created in 1876 out of part of the Parish of St. Andrew’s, Sonning. The church was built in 1842 with money donated by the Palmer family of Holme Park, Sonning (now the Reading Blue Coat School). It was served as a “chapel-of-ease” by clergy from Sonning until the first Vicar (previously a curate at Sonning) was appointed in 1876. A Vicarage was built at Dunsden, now called Glebe House, and a new vicarage was built in 1965, but this was sold when the last vicar left in 1977 and is now known as “Not The Vicarage”. In 1977 the parish was amalgamated with that of Shiplake and in 2003 St. Margaret’s Harpsden joined us as a separate parish within the joint benefice.

The church is a spacious, uncluttered, unpretentious Victorian building seating about 140. An open area at the back of the church has been formed to provide facilities for refreshments.  The nave is wide, furnished partly with deal pews.   In 1875 a chancel and sanctuary were added with oak choir stalls and a carved stone reredos possibly designed by the Victorian sculptor Henry Woodyer, who designed the stone pulpit, The pulpit was moved to All Saints from St. Andrew’s, Sonning  in 1885. The font is also of stone. The stained glass is by John Hardman, a well-known, indeed famous, Victorian artist in stained glass.  There is a very fine small pipe organ, built by John Holdich in 1875.

Wilfred Owen, the WWI war poet, was lay assistant to the Vicar of All Saints from 1911–13, and his parents and sister are buried in the churchyard. The church and graves form part of the smartphone-compatible Owen in Dunsden trail which tells the story of Wilfred Owen’s time in Dunsden.

The churchyard has been twice extended, in 1927 and in 2000. A large car park, for 50 cars, was built in 2006 on land leased from the Phillimore Estate. A flint and brick building used previously to store the church’s coffin trolley, or bier, was in 2004 turned into a washroom suitable for disabled people and provides storage facilities.   In the church, space has been made for two wheelchairs or pushchairs at the end of two pews at the centre (not at the back or the front) of the church.

The Choir

For many years Dunsden Church had a fine choral tradition with a choir in 1897 off at least 21 boys and men, impressive for a mainly farming community.   This tradition continues with a succession of keen choristers (though fewer than formerly) and organists. .The acoustics are excellent, backed up by a good sound system.  Every chance is taken to put on concerts and varied exhibitions which draw in many people. New members of the choir would be made most welcome. Please phone the Church Office 0118 940 6098 or email Church Office

The Flower Team

We have a dedicated team of flower arrangers who volunteer regularly on a rota basis. .

At Festival times e.g. Christmas, Easter, and Harvest, the church looks extra special for the occasion. We have also held flower festivals in the church which have always been very successful and well supported by various people ranging from young children to professional arrangers.

We love to welcome new people to the team. Previous experience is helpful but not essential and, because everyone has their own style, we love the variety it brings. Flowers can be provided for weddings at the church by arrangement.

For more information make contact through the Church Office telephone 0118 940 6098 or email Church Office