Storm over seats and floors at church

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? The Kentish Express Memories Page W -

A storm has been brew­ing within the con­gre­ga­tion of one of the town’s much re­spected re­li­gious cen­tres.

Of­fi­cials at the church of St Mary’s, Ken­ning­ton, want out with the pews and in with move­able seat­ing and flat packed floor­ing.

Scores of res­i­dents have con­tacted me over the last few weeks to air their dis­taste at this con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal to bring St Mary’s into line with other churches that have ditched beau­ti­ful fix­tures and fit­tings in favour of seat­ing per­haps more suited to a school can­teen or lec­ture theatre.

The or­nate pews were over­seen by the Peters Fam­ily and have stood for nearly one and a half cen­turies.

It was around 1850 when lo­cals fought for pews to be in­stalled and it took some 20 years of hard fundrais­ing for the pro­ject to come to fruition.

It has been said nowa­days there are many places to wor­ship and marry but a ma­jor­ity still want the tra­di­tional church wed­ding to­gether with the com­fort­able at­mos­phere and above all the orig­i­nal­ity of the sa­cred place.

The church says the plans will give ease of ac­cess for dis­abled peo­ple but one such 90-year-old lady and long­stand­ing wor­ship­per has told me that she and her friends with re­duced mo­bil­ity be­lieve ac­cess is fine and does not re­quire any al­ter­ation.

Ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal ex­pert John Vi­gar FRSA has said: “The pews are a set piece – I hope the Vic­to­rian ensem­ble may be pre­served. It should be noted that the nov­elty of re­mov­able chairs and pews soon wears off, by which time the his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ter has been lost.”

What do you think? Please get in touch. Write to me: Steve Sal­ter, Ken­tish Ex­press Re­mem­ber When, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR, email me at re­mem­ber­when_ kmash@hot­ or fol­low me on Twit­ter @ SteveKMAsh­ford.

Or you can also leave a tele­phone mes­sage for me with brief de­tails by call­ing 01233 623232.

St Mary’s Church in 1956 and a scene fa­mil­iar to gen­er­a­tions of Ken­ning­ton wor­ship­pers and res­i­dents show­ing a good turnout at the much-loved church, a tra­di­tional set­ting that it is still a pre­ferred choice for most when it comes to mar­riage

St Mary’s Church in Ken­ning­ton, circa 1900. The tra­di­tional pews pic­tured give the church a sense of or­der and ar­range­ment adding to the tran­quil­ity of the sa­cred place.

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