Our reputation as a specialist church furniture maker has led to us becoming involved in some very exciting ecclesiastical restoration projects for churches, cathedrals and places of worship.
Many of these projects have been right on our doorstep here in Yorkshire where we have been an integral part of the team working to transform some of our region’s best-loved historic buildings into thriving, modern community spaces.
Our latest assignment followed on from work we have carried out for Wakefield Cathedral over the past few years and was part of a reorganisation of the crypt area.
The Dean was keen to make the most of this space and to create somewhere suitable to hold the cathedral’s vestry garments. The cathedral has a beautiful collection of ceremonial gowns for different occasions throughout the Christian calendar and the new vestry wardrobes will maintain them in perfect condition in between uses.
Until now Wakefield Cathedral had been using mass produced cupboards which were falling apart and simply weren’t fit for purpose. As an experienced church furniture maker we were able to design new vestry wardrobes that would last for centuries and was in keeping with the iconic architecture and the furniture we had designed as part of the recent restoration, which included an altar, ambo and choir stalls.
The design process
It was essential for us to understand how the vestry rooms functioned and the role they played in cathedral life. We needed to understand the practical requirements as well as the aesthetics.
We discussed this in detail with the Dean and other members of the project team and found out as much as we could about the seasons in the church year and the fact that each has its own set of garments which are arranged and stored together. Before each service the relevant garments are prepared and laid out ready to be worn.
There was underfloor heating in the crypt that had to be taken into consideration and this meant designing freestanding vestry wardrobes that would withstand heat from below and allow free flow of air from the heating grates in the floor. There were also higher than normal humidity levels to consider with the crypt being underground.
The room itself had striking architectural features that influenced the design. There was original Parquet flooring, vaulted ceilings and octagonal stone pillars as well as existing table furniture.
The expertise of the bespoke church furniture maker
Our ecclesiastical experience really came into play with this project. We designed three separate wardrobes that would work perfectly with the space, enhancing the architectural features and complementing other areas of the church. Most importantly, they would be easy to use and provide robust and protective storage for the array of vestry garments.
We used oak and walnut with a contemporary split frame and panel door design. The wardrobes featured tapered solid oak legs and an oak cornice.
The espagnolette locking system and external garment rail, where the robes would hang just before a service, were crafted using solid brass.
We created extra storage space above one of the wardrobes to hold items that are less frequently used and cubby holes where each of the clergy can to store personal items.
It’s this attention to detail that had helped us build our reputation as a specialist church furniture maker and the addition of these practical and aesthetic touches is one of the most enjoyable parts of our job.
We also enjoy being part of a close-knit team, designing and making beautiful furniture that will serve today’s church community and many generations to come.