Dispute over Victorian pews in St Botolph’s Church in Stow Bedon is resolved

St Botolph's Church in Stow Bedon. Picture: Matthew Usher.

St Botolph's Church in Stow Bedon. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A dispute over the fate of some Victorian church pews which threatened plans to create a space for community events has been resolved.

Pews in St Botolph's Church in Stow Bedon. Photo: Andrew Swift, Digitimage Photo Restoration, Leices

Pews in St Botolph's Church in Stow Bedon. Photo: Andrew Swift, Digitimage Photo Restoration, Leicester - Credit: Archant

The disagreement surfaced when the authorities at St Botolph's Church at Stow Bedon, between Watton and Attleborough, sought permission from the Church of England's Consistory Court for work which included replacing pews in the nave with modern chairs.

In a ruling, Ruth Arlow, chancellor of the diocese of Norwich and a judge of the Consistory Court, said the pews, which date back to a re-ordering of the church in 1853, should stay put.

In a judgment, she said the pews 'appear to be of no particular quality', but added: 'The simplicity of the nave and the church building as a whole is such that the replacement of all of the nave pews with chairs and the change in flooring would undoubtedly have a considerable visual impact on the building.'

However, she put proceedings on hold for six months to give the church authorities to come up with a revised scheme.

Gillian Machorton, treasurer of the parochial church council, said an agreement had been reached that would retain four rows of pews, which could be moved to make space for community events.

The church, currently undergoing lottery-funded repairs, needs to raise £50,000 to realise the plans for a community space. To donate, contact gillian.machorton@btinternet.com

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Do you have a church story? Email ian.clarke@archant.co.uk

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