Historic church and arts centre, serving the community...
Rebuilt except for its Tudor tower in 1734-36, St Swithun’s is, inside and out, a stylish and almost unaltered example of early Georgian church architecture, with few equals in the country. It has all the furnishings of its time, including font, 1795 organ by the Gray brothers of London, box pews, west-end gallery, an elegant three-decker pulpit, under its wonderful tester surmounted by a gilded pelican feeding her young, mayor’s pew and ceremonial sword rest. Nothing is incongruous, and high quality workmanship prevails throughout.
In 1977 this beautiful city-centre church passed into the guardianship of the Churches Conservation Trust to ensure its survival for the enjoyment of future generations. The Trust is a national charity which cares for historic churches at risk when they are no longer needed for regular worship. More than 340 special buildings in their care attract more than 1.5 million visitors each year.
St Swithun's is still a consecrated church, though services are only held occasionally. It operates as an arts centre, but with an eye to the overriding fact that the building is an historic church.. The building is open during the summer months for visitors to view the architectural features, and there is a series of organ recitals and other events throughout the season.