St John's Parish Church
Our pastoral district covers the easternmost part of Whitstable - from Bennells Avenue in Tankerton to the Swalecliffe Bends. The village of Swalecliffe is on the seaward side of the railway line and Chestfield is in the southern part of the district, reaching into the ancient Forest of Blean as far the Dogs' Trust Rehoming Centre. Swalecliffe has a popular holiday park and the attractive Long Rock coastline - part of the Thanet Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest. Chestfield is a mainly residential area with a golf course and thatched barn pub.
St John's church community is warm and welcoming and works closely with local groups such as the 6th Whitstable Scout Group and the Swalecliffe Free (Baptist) Church. Our Children & Families Minister has strong links with the local school and nurseries.
Our Church Building
St. John's was designed by Robert Wheeler and built by Cephus Foad of Whitstable. It is a small attractive Victorian parish church surrounded by mature trees and within sight of the sea. The building is on the footprint of an earlier Norman building, which it was designed to resemble. Traces of an even earlier Saxon building were found during rebuilding work in 1876.
The exterior is of local grey ragstone with a patterned russet and grey tiled roof and a slender tile-hung bell tower at its West end. The internal walls are of homely red brick, with warm wooden pews, and a large ornate pulpit and font. Original oil lamps remain - adapted for electricity - and supplemented by flood-lights set in the fine wooden-beamed ceiling. The plain glass windows give the interior a light and friendly feel.
BUILDING UPDATE - July 2018
Every five years architects' advice is sought concerning any remedial work that may be required in order to keep the church in good condition. In Autumn 2017 work began on repairs to the buttresses and wall cracks. In recent weeks visitors to our church will have seen scaffolding both inside and outside of the building as a result This is needed whilst work is carried out to keep the exterior in good condition. Internal repairs to the damaged ceiling of the Nave will be carried out shortly.
Recommendations were also made regarding urgent repair to the Steeple and Bell-cote. You may have noticed the absence of bell-ringing over the last couple of years? Sadly the bell and couplings are in poor condition and have been removed for renovation. The bell will, in due course, be rehung together with a new bell rope.
One of the most challenging problems facing us concerns the foundations and clay soil - a combination of which causes the Church to move. A watchful eye also has to be kept on the surrounding trees. Some have already been removed and others reduced in order to comply with the architects' report.
Every effort is made to continue with church services without too much disruption.
We are also fortunate to have an excellent Church Centre, situated in the centre of Swalecliffe village. It is used by community groups and families as well as for our own activities - including our Wednesday Holy Communion, Saturday Market, Café Church, Brunch Club, Coffee Break, Chatterbox Baby & Toddler Group and Village Praise @ The Centre. The purchase of the centre was made possible by the bequests of former members of St. John's, especially Miss Averil Efford.
To find out more about the centre and what happens there, please click HERE
Fr David is the Team Vicar for St John's Parish Church. He is married to Jenny and they have three sons and four grandchildren. He says "my aim is to treasure what God has given us in the past, to enjoy what He gives us now and prepare for what God will give us in the future when we are faithful to his mission of love in the world."
David loves singing, walking, gardening and spending time with people. His working days are Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays plus days which include weddings and funerals. You can use our Contact Page to find out how to get in touch with David.
Our Children & Families Minister
Naomi Smith is our Children & Families Minister. She is married to Toby and they have a new baby son. She loves performing arts, having trained in Musical Theatre at GSA. Naomi says "I love travelling, especially around the UK, seeing all that this country has to offer, but mainly I like to snuggle up on the sofa to watch a sit-com like 'Friends' or with a good box set such as 'The Big Bang Theory'!"