Storm over seats and floors at church
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.”
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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.