Penelope Swithinbank

Penelope 5 high-res (1 of 1).jpeg

I am  an  Anglican priest and an Ignatian- trained Spiritual Director; an author, blogger and Pilgrim; and a wife, mother and grandmother. All in no particular order!

Scroll on down on on your phone for the freebie download - or pop across to the next column if on your computer or iPad!

I have been married to my husband, Kim, for over 40 years; for most of those years we have been in parish ministry, both in the UK and the USA. In the 1980’s I founded a franchise company, Bumpsadaisy Maternity Wear, and had over 70 franchisees working around the UK. Being a business woman taught me much about being in the world outside church circles.

I've had  the huge privileges of opening the US Senate in prayer, being a Spiritual Director to a wide variety of people, and speaking on very large Christian conferences.

Ordination was in 2002, just before my husband and I went to minister in a large church in northern Virginia for several years. Then I loved being an interim Rector near Charleston, South Carolina, at the Church of Our Saviour. I was Chaplain at St Mellitus Theological College in London for a few years, and enjoyed being back in an academic setting.

Latterly I was running The Vine at Mays Farm, a Christian retreat house. Now we live near Bath, where we are enjoying semi-retirement! (re-fire-ment?

I have my own ministry,  Ministries by Design, and it includes writing, Spiritual counselling/mentoring, leading Pilgrimages, often with Kim; and a part time volunteer chaplaincy at Bath Abbey.          

We have 3  married children and 6 grandchildren. A third of the family live in Virginia, USA, which means there's always a foot on each side of the Atlantic.  I love hiking and walking; reading; the theatre;  and looking after my grandchildren on both sides of the The Pond


I’m giving away a free download which will help you to enjoy a special time while you walk - however long or short your walk might be. It will give you 5 simple ways to enjoy a mini retreat, time with the Lord, while you walk. Each of the 5 is easy to do, and each gives you a way to connect with God perhaps in a way you haven’t before.  AND you’ll be one of the first to know when my new book “Walking Back to Happiness” is published this autumn. Can’t wait to tell you more about it - it’s a memoir about the epic walk across France in June 2018, when, our marriage in a dire way, my husband and I walked from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic; and how we found ourselves in France.

All you have to do is fill in your email address and the freebie will slip into your inbox.

Enjoy late summer walking and retreating!

Spiritual Direction



Spiritual Direction  is the traditional term for walking along side others to help them discern more of what God may be doing in their lives, to respond to him, and to help them grow in their relationship with God. It is not counselling, therapy or advice! But it is a safe place, with total confidentiality, and many clergy in particular value the opportunity to talk about and pray through either specific situations or their Christian journey in general.  

But it's not limited to clergy and pastors!  Anyone can find it helpful to meet with a Spiritual Director and have  the opportunity and space to reflect on His presence in your life. A typical spiritual direction session lasts about an hour, is totally confidential, and takes place usually once every 6 – 8 weeks, although some people prefer termly and sometimes people need once a week. Your choice!

 I’m in the fortunate position of dividing my time between the UK and USA, so I'm available to meet for spiritual direction either in person in Norton St Philip, Bath in the UK;  or in Sterling Virginia USA; or over distance through Skype™ or Facetime.

I have been offering spiritual direction since I trained as an Ignatian Director 10 years ago; but prior to that I often mentored younger Christians one-on-one , and I have a life time of experience as a Clergy child, a Clergy spouse and now Clergy myself! And I've also briefly been a teacher;  and was a business woman for several years, starting and running a franchise company.  So I have a wide experience of Life! 

 Usually, there is a suggested honorarium of £40/$60 a session (UK/US) as I am now self-supporting. However, I don’t want money to be an issue, so if you have a need, I simply request that you ask God what amount you should pay per session.

If you have questions about spiritual direction, please feel free to contact me (see above). I’d love to have an initial conversation with you, when we meet informally for 45 minutes or so to talk and see whether it would work for you and for me for us to continue together to discover God’s purpose and direction in your life.

I know firsthand that God can and does do amazing things in our lives. He has led me and walked with me both through valleys and on mountaintops.  I have experienced His love and goodness even in times of great difficulty, great grief and great pain. And enormous blessings too.     

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Following the publication of "Women by Design" I've  written for various publications, including regular Bible reading notes for Scripture Union's Daily Bread,  and magazines such as Woman Alive.



The book about our epic Walk Across France: In June 2018, Kim and I backpacked from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and learnt a lot about ourselves, our marriage, our faith and Life in general. It will be published by Malcolm Down in November 2019.


A book of daily devotions for the first months after a major bereavement, which I wrote having had a terrible bereavement ( I saw my mother run over by an out-of-control car).

Nothing met my need in those times of spiritual bewilderment and grief; eventually I wrote my own.

Publication is some time in 2020.


I have spoken on many retreats, conferences, Quiet Days and church events and am available for preaching and teaching, for Women's groups, quiet days, and retreats, both in the UK and also in the USA, where we spend a few weeks several times a year. 

Walking the Cornish coastal path

Walking the Cornish coastal path


Ministries by Design, Lanston House, Norton St Philip, Bath BA2 7PE