Historic pews set to remain
Written by Judders on March 1, 2018
Removal of Victorian Church Pews ruled out by court
A judge has stopped a vicar’s idea to remove traditional church pews and replace them with metal framed chairs in Sittingbourne.
Reverend Michael Resch asked permission to remove the Victorian seating at the Holy Trinity Church in Dover Street Sittingbourne to make way for new metal framed chairs that can be easily moved.
“It is our belief that the building is there to serve us, not for us to serve the building”
Rev Resch said “We are a growing church and we run a number of community events, so we need more flexibility”. He added “It is our belief that the building is there to serve us, not for us to serve the building”
The reverend also felt that chairs would enable services to focus on different areas, for example the font used for Baptisms.
The church has previously applied to remove the pews from the back of the church, and this was approved to make way for a “Café” style seating area, the space is now used for lunch clubs and quizzes.
Rev Resch said “The space at the back of the church can take up to 100 people but we have more than 200 people coming to the church and we want to invite people in from the community as well.”
The church building is 148 years old and Grade II listed and as such leaders have to seek permission to make any
changes from the Church of England’s Commissary Court of Canterbury. A hearing ruled against the removal of the church pews and must remain.
Mr Steven Gasztowicz QC, deputy commissary general of the Canterbury Diocese, argued that the removal of the seats, which are original features, along with two clergy stalls were originally installed in 1919 to commemorate those who lost their lives in the First World War and would “result in harm to it as a building of special historical interest”
Reverend Michael Resch was said to be unhappy with the decision and said “it’s about finding a balance between maintaining historical integrity and being able to serve the community” “This is not the result I wanted”
“It would now cost too much to appeal the decision, so we need to look at trying to get the balance right in other ways”