What’s happening to the pews?

Some changes are taking place to the pews at St Mary’s, this summer, as the next stage of the development programme is put into place.

What we have

St Mary’s has some very beautiful and unusual pews.  They were installed in the church in the 1860s and are made of elm and oak.  Each has an individually carved and unique side panel on the aisle side.  Currently the pews are fixed to the walls. Over the years pews have been removed to create additional open spaces. The last major  “reordering “ (as such a process is called) took place in 1967, when the pews were reduced in number and refitted on new flooring made of American oak.

What is changing?

During the summer work will be taking place to modify the  remaining pews. They will each be removed in turn, refitted with a wider seat (for added comfort, and given retractable wheels so that they can be moved about when needed.

The modified seats will no longer be attached to the wall but have one of the carved side panels at each end. These are not new panels, but ones that have been retained over the years as pews have been removed from other parts of the church.

You can see a prototype of the new pews in the church.  It has proved to be very popular as it is much more comfortable than the existing pews and is fitted with cushions.

What will be the result?

We are retaining 20 pews, just one row less than exists at present. For most of the time they will be set out as they are now so the church will retain a familiar appearance.  When more space is needed, or if the seating needs to be configured in a different way for a service or event, this will be achieved by moving the pews themselves which can be lifted and moved very easily on their fitted wheels.


Carpentry will be undertaken by Newmans of Bath and the wheels and other metal work by Martin Hanney of Bitton. At present work is expected to take place between August and October.

There will be some inevitable disruption from time to time and it is inevitable that St Mary’s will look a little untidy while this work takes place.  But it is intended to keep the church open as much as possible.  The chapel will be taken out of action for most of this period as that is where the work will be carried out.