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Pews to size

07 July 2008

by Margaret Duggan

SO MANY CHURCHES are removing their Victorian pews, in order to be more flexible in using their building, that long pitch-pine pews are becoming a drag on the market and fetching very low prices, says Wendy Coombey, the Hereford diocesan community partnership and funding officer.

Her job is to help with developing projects, particularly to do with church buildings, and she thought that there must be some more creative way to deal with the problem. So now, in partnership with Herefordshire Council, the Take a Pew project has been set up, administered by a charity, EnviroAbility, which works with people with learning disabilities.

They will be removing the pews, and will adapt them in length — customise them in fact — to make useable pieces of domestic furniture for people who like to cherish a bit of local heritage (left). To encourage that, each adapted pew will bear a plaque on the back naming the church from which it came, and something of the history of the church and its village.

The people who will be working will be paid, and Ms Coombey hopes that they will eventually get a living wage. But, as most of them are in residential care, the increasing payments will have to be carefully managed, she says, so that they don’t lose out on their benefits.

Nor will the churches lose out. Take a Pew is a business, and will be offering better prices for old pews than the present depressed market.

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