A few weeks ago we said that a rather dismal café in a post office in Holloway was the first such operation in London. A TO reader tweeted us saying that another had already opened in West Hampstead. And not only was this a café/post office combo, it was situated in a church.
Here, happily, the postman delivers only good news. The Sanctuary at Grade II-listed St James Church is a wonderful café, capably run and warmly welcoming. An espresso had cooled off a bit by the time it reached us, but it was well made. Better still was a ham and cheese toastie (part of a range which they heroically resisted the temptation to call Posties). And best of all was a pair of gluten-free cakes, especially a light and airy orange cake: the equal of any we’ve tasted in London.
On a Saturday afternoon the place was jumping, literally: there is a children’s play area here, and the kids were out in force. Weekdays are quieter, according to the manager, who also explained how the whole thing came about. When plans were announced to shut down the local post office, St James’s vicar, Andrew Cain, hatched the idea of moving it to his church. Money was raised, and the new operation – which also includes a shop – opened in July. Profits will go to a local community charity.
If you live anywhere nearby, you should go there: St James is a dream of a neighbourhood café. But note that on Sundays, the church is used as a church.