SomersetWALCOTStSwithin(michaeldayCC-BY-NC2.0)1 MichaelDay

St Swithin

Christian witness may have taken place on this site since Roman times and the first church was built soon after 971 AD and dedicated to the memory of Swithin, Bishop of Winchester from 852 to 862, the foundations of this Saxon church lie beneath the floor of the crypt.

Bath, Somerset

Opening times

Open Tuesday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm.


The Paragon

In medieval times Walcot was a hamlet outside the walls of Bath. It was taken within the enlarged city boundary in 1590. The Saxon church was badly damaged by storms in 1739. John Wood, the architect who led the astonishing expansion of Bath in the 18th century, put forward plans for a replacement, but a design by the then churchwarden, Robert Smith, was selected instead.

This church, completed in 1742, was soon swamped by the rapid growth of Georgian Bath’s elegant Upper Town, and John Palmer (architect of Lansdown Crescent) was commissioned to build a new one. Palmer’s new church was consecrated in 1777. Within ten years it also became too small, and Palmer extended it eastwards by two bays. A classical spire, added in 1790 to the existing tower, completed his design. St Swithin’s became the parish church of Georgian Bath.

Today it is the only remaining 18th century parish church in the city. During the 19th Century the rich and famous worshipped here. Many of them are commemorated by memorials inside the church. As space for burials ran out, a new cemetery was opened on Lansdown in 1848 on land attached to William Beckford’s tower which was conveyed to the then Rector by Beckford’s daughter, the Duchess of Hamilton.

In the Victorian era St Saviour's, St Stephen's, Holy Trinity and St Andrew's were built as daughter churches to accommodate the growing population of the parish. All except the last eventually became independent parishes. The present day parish extends from Royal Crescent in the west to Snow Hill in the east.

Jane Austen's parents were married here in April 1764, and her father buried here in January 1805. Revd George Austen was buried in the crypt but his gravestone may be seen in the enclosure to the east of the church.

  • Wildlife haven

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Social heritage stories

  • National heritage here

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Famous connections

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Wifi

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Café in church

  • Bus stop within 100m

  • Accessible toilets in church

  • Cafe opening times: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10am to 3pm and Thursday 12noon to 3pm.

  • Toddlers: Thursdays 10am to 11.45am.

  • Men Behaving Dadly: 3rd Saturday of the month 9am to 10.30am.

  • Various community choirs meet weekly in the building.

  • Church of England

Contact information

SomersetWALCOTStSwithin(michaeldayCC-BY-NC2.0)1 MichaelDay

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