Despite the Crown Centre being in Devizes for 40 years there are people who don’t know of its existence, says manager Sam Wilson.

The centre, in the centre of Devizes, is a hub of activity.

The meeting place, in St John’s Street, serves teas and coffees six days a week and lunch three times a week.

The centre also has five rooms for hire and it is used regularly by groups and organisations, including U3A, MIND and a healing group.

The members of the Crown Centre are predominantly elderly but Mrs Wilson said it is not exclusively for retired people.

She said: “Two of our customers bring their grandkids and great grandkids in. A group of mums could come along and meet up.”

The centre, a Grade II listed building dating back to 1538, charges an annual subscription, which will increase from £5 to £7 in 2012. A two-course lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays is £4 while a mug of tea is 60p and coffee is 70p.

Mrs Wilson, who has been manager of the centre for 12 years, said: “We need people to join us because so many people don’t know we’re here. It is a warm, welcoming place for people to come and have something to eat, meet, have a cup of coffee and chat.

“Once people have been here for lunch they come back, the food is really good. The meals we do are all home cooked from scratch.

“The centre is a lifeline for a lot of people. For some it provides a haven for them to meet in comfort and safety and have a meal enabling them to continue to live independently in their own homes.”

The Crown Centre is a non-profit making charity and the trustees achieved a long-held ambition by installing a central heating system and had the rooms repainted to make them brighter and more modern.

“The central heating has made a big difference. It got quite chilly in the winter and it did put some people off,” Mrs Wilson said.

Mrs Wilson is the only paid member of staff and she is supported by about 40 volunteers.

One of them, Margaret Parkinson – a pensioner from Rowde – has been a volunteer for four years. She serves food and washes up the dishes.

She said: “I love coming here. We get to know the customers. We have a laugh with them, they tell us about their families, and there is friendship and camaraderie.”

Robert Hayter, 71, and Myra Hayter, 72, of Chantry Court, Devizes, have been members of the centre for four years and go twice a week for lunch.

Mr Hayter said: “They provide proper home-cooked food, not rubbish that you get elsewhere.

“I think it’s a wonderful place and we have made lots of friends.”