Saint Swithins Church - Parish of Walcot

The Café

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers . . .”

Hebrews 13:2      

Relationship is at the heart of our community; there we find relationship with a living God and the expression of that relationship in our love and fellowship with others. We long to make our church a place of welcome to all, expressing in our hospitality something of God’s generous welcome.

Cafe Menu Board“Church without walls” is how one visitor described St Swithin’s Café. The café is a living expression of our welcome.  Located in the renovated crypt and open five days a week for light lunches and refreshments, it is a hub for the Walcot community and a place of friendship.  The friendship amongst the team of staff and volunteers who run the café extends to all who visit and enjoy the refreshment of body and mind they find there! Many families come too, and make the most of the space and toys provided in the large adjoining room, as well as the garden in the summer months.

Opening Hours:

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays:  10.00am – 3.00pm
Thursdays:  12.00pm – 3.00pm
Sundays and Mondays:  Closed

I first came to St Swithin’s for the cafe. It was really nice to come in here and meet my husband from work and have a nice simple lunch, nothing too fancy or expensive but a lovely atmosphere.  It’s just calm here and people are always really nice and friendly.  There’s plenty of room for buggies, there’s great baby changing facilities that almost always have wipes in case you’ve forgotten yours!  It’s all on one level with loads of space; having enough space for the children to play is really, really, great.

I think it’s positive that toddlers is connected to a church, I find it very comforting. This is quite a gentle way to be involved in the church. I don’t feel like I’m being preached at but I still have contact with the church. I can talk about faith in a very loose, natural way. That’s another nice thing about here, you feel you can talk about stuff that you couldn’t talk about with some other friends, or you’d just end up in a massive row! I think Toddlers strikes a good balance with having a bit of religious content, you know Bible stories, some songs and a prayer every so often, without being every week and too heavy. So I still feel like I’m involved with religion but it’s really light; that suits me at the moment.

I’ve since come to services on a Sunday. We came on Easter Day to the baptisms, which was amazing!  I’ve never seen anything like that before, it was incredible.  It was very different.  I hadn’t been to a church service like that before; I’d always been to something much more traditional.  I responded to it much more than a structured service, though they have their good bits too, it seemed a bit more contemporary.  It’s a nice bright church with happy people in it, and not all churches are like that, are they, from my very limited experience?

When I realised there was a toddler group I put my name down on the waiting list and spoke to Judy, who was really friendly.  I have been to other toddler groups and just sat in the corner and wondered ‘how am I going to get through an hour and a half here’, whereas here I can just chat with people.  It’s very informal, friendly and welcoming.  Judy and Claudia came round with me and made a real point of introducing me to five or six people, and that was just really nice.  Toddlers on a Thursday has become a really important thing in my week.  Now I’ve started to get more involved.  I think it will be great to give something back to something that has done me good.

Elizabeth Hadwin