About this church
Although there are records of a church on this site in the 13th century, the church today is a typical large town church, built on a cruciform plan with a central tower. The oldest part as it now stands is the north transept which today is called the Lady Chapel and used for weekday or other small services. The central pillar and its two arches belong to the 14th century and still display their original painted decoration. A document of 1535 says that St Swithun's had four chantries. The neighbouring Chapelgate probably takes its name from the existence of the chantry chapels. The north transept chapel is also a war memorial.
The rest of the church is basically of the 15th century and is in the style often called perpendicular. The central tower collapsed in a storm in 1651, destroying much of the chancel and south transept. It was rebuilt in 1658 and from outside it clearly has a 17th century look to it. Inside, massive piers were built to carry its weight and these low, heavy crossing arches are a feature of the church today. Looking eastward from the nave, the columns of the earlier arches can be seen, much more slender and with a much higher springing. Under the tower, on the South side high above the vicar's stall, although not easily seen with the naked eye, is a stone bearing the inscription Ano Mundi 5226 Ano Christie 1582. It was moved to there from the chantry in 1873.
There are many memorials in the church. The oldest one is a floor slab in the northeat corner of the north transept chapel. It dates from 1496 and is in memory of Henry Smyth, but most of the memorials are of the 18th and 19th centuries.