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Seating guidance from ChurchCare Print E-mail

One of the most frequent changes made to churches today will involve seating in some way. Changing seating inside a church can have a significant impact upon the interior. The process of changing furniture, as well as choosing a suitable alternative, requires careful consideration. ChurchCare publish a document intended to guide parishes through the planning stages and the decisions involved.

The decision to remove pews should be made on a case by case basis following careful assessment of significance, needs and impacts. If the decision is taken to replace existing seating in a historic church building, then the Church Buildings Council aspires to seeing replacement chairs or benches of the highest quality of design.

Changes will require a faculty and, due to the presumption against any change that will adversely affect the character of the church as a building of special architectural or historic interest, applicants are required to demonstrate sufficient need for change.

It is worth noting that collegiatewise chancel stalls are often of higher quality and significance so their retention is often desirable. Doing so not only facilitates the retention of some of the original character of the church, but also retains a formality at the east end of the church and preserves interior views. Even though there may no longer be a robed choir using the stalls, the pews can be used for smaller midweek services and as a quiet worship area.

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Mogo Direct have a wide range of practical folding chairs ideal for churches.

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Brief history of church seating

The earliest churches in England had no fixed seating. In some there were stone benches around the walls and the pillars.

Seating was increasingly introduced from the late thirteenth century, a process accelerated by the Reformation and the consequent shift in emphasis from altar to pulpit. Simply formed benches were introduced to which backs and ends were subsequently added, in time these became more sophisticated in form and design until churches were fully pewed.

By the Jacobean period pews had higher sides for greater privacy and comfort. From the end of the sixteenth century rights to a particular pew could be acquired through faculty, rent, or continuous long use. Numbering and locks became common features to ensure correct appropriation. Galleries were introduced to provide additional ‘free’ seating. 

Click here to read the full document

You can find a selection of companies who provide church seating in our directory here.

 
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