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Tony Grist

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Taking Out The Pews [May. 18th, 2014|10:14 am]
Tony Grist
A couple of Sandwich's big medieval churches have been handed over to the Churches Conservation Trust and it's taken out the seating.

You put pews or chairs in a church and it becomes a space that can only be used in one way: performers at the east end, audience- seated passively- to the west. Remove  the seating and you create a huge, barn-like space- multifunctional, omnidirectional.  The aisles cease to exist, leaving the one, large room- unobstructed- squarer than it looked before- a basilica- broken up with pillars which no longer mark out a set of narrow pathways but simply support the roof.  The building has been democratized, taken away from the priests, its meaning opened up to interpretation.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: angiereedgarner
2014-05-18 10:49 am (UTC)
My home church burned and rebuilt this way intentionally when they had !money! and could have done anything.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-18 12:45 pm (UTC)
It was the right choice (I think.)
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[User Picture]From: angiereedgarner
2014-05-18 12:47 pm (UTC)
Summer attendance is very low so it lets them rotate the pulpit 90 degrees and have a small intimate church. :)
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2014-05-18 12:30 pm (UTC)
I was in York Minster a while ago when they'd taken the seating out temporarily, and it made an incredible difference. I was reminded of it in Hagia Sophia.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-18 12:47 pm (UTC)
I've seen Wells cathedral similarly stripped. It's a good look.
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From: artkouros
2014-05-18 01:10 pm (UTC)
I read somewhere that churches didn't have seating until the 1500s.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-18 08:24 pm (UTC)
I think that's right.
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[User Picture]From: kishenehn
2014-05-18 02:10 pm (UTC)
I like that a lot. Though I'm not a fan of most religious institutions, I do love the architecture that some of them have created ...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-18 08:27 pm (UTC)
That's my position too. I'm tired of religion (on the whole I think we'd be better off without it) but I love religious architecture.
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[User Picture]From: wlotusopenid
2014-05-18 04:43 pm (UTC)
I never thought about it that way, but you're right.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-18 08:28 pm (UTC)
Cheers.
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[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2014-05-18 05:27 pm (UTC)
...The building has been democratized... Yes - that's it exactly. Churches become something else when the rank-and-file pews have gone.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-18 08:28 pm (UTC)
The pews put the people in their place.
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[User Picture]From: ooxc
2014-05-18 05:56 pm (UTC)
Back to pre-Reformation pattern, when there was only seating for nobility, except a bench along the side? There's an engraving - can't remember where - showing people standing, and prayer desks for a few
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-18 08:31 pm (UTC)
I love those 17th century Dutch paintings of unfurnished churches with people wandering about in them.
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[User Picture]From: ooxc
2014-05-18 05:58 pm (UTC)
PS I expect that people thought that they were democratising, when the pews were provided?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-18 08:32 pm (UTC)
They probably did.

The Victorians certainly thought they were striking a huge blow for liberty, fraternity and equality when they got rid of the box pews and put in benches.
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