Our approach to designing chancel and sanctuary furniture

Up and down the country a transformation is taking place, as the custodians of many of Britain’s beautiful and historic church buildings set about optimising their interiors to create  much needed hubs for their local communities. Part of this process often involves designing new chancel and sanctuary furniture.

Here at Dovetailors we are very fortunate to have played a significant part in this journey for landmark building such as Wakefield Cathedral, Newport Cathedral and St Mildred’s Church in Croydon.

In many of these cases we were commissioned to design replacements for their fixed furniture and create something that reflected the building’s heritage yet would be flexible enough to allow the space to be multi-use.

Sometimes, we have simply been invited to create something beautiful, such as a new baptismal font or paschal candle, working with the church community to design a piece that represents the people and the place.

Here are some of our favourite chancel and sanctuary furniture projects and the stories behind them.

Choir Stalls for St Mildred’s Church, Croydon

In the case of the St Mildred’s Church community, they were carrying out a church makeover so that the space could be used more flexibly. Our brief was to design some new choir stalls that complemented the architecture and we took inspiration from the incredible gothic arches. We loved this project because it was such a team effort between our own designers and makers and the community at St Mildred’s who were lovely to work with.

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Altar and Ambo for Wakefield Cathedral

cathedrals - View of altar and ambo for Wakefiled renovation project

We have carried out lots of exciting and creative projects with Wakefield Cathedral and this was one of our very first. The oak and burr was described by the Dean as “delightful” and we have to agree. It has set the tone for our other pieces, which have included vestry wardrobes, choir stalls, a stunning oak display case and refectory tables, all carefully designed with practicality in mind.

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Music stand for Sheffield Cathedral


Smaller projects can often present just as many design challenges as large ones and this oak music stand for Sheffield Cathedral is a good example. We used our engineering expertise to create a bespoke sliding structure with a stainless steel locking mechanism for easy adjustment. We love problem solving and this tested our capabilities on all fronts – woodworking skills, attention to detail and using complex geometry to create something very stylish and effortlessly functional.

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Paschal Candle for Mirfield Monastery

Paschal Candle stand in oak - Community of the Resurection at Mirfield

The Paschal candle is an important feature in Christian worship and we were delighted to have the opportunity to make one or Mirfield Monastery. This is not just any Paschal candle however. Standing 2.5 metres high with 45 individually sculpted oak components, it has been designed and made with love and care. The concealed castors mean it’s easy to move when not in use.

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Baptismal Font for Liverpool Parish Church

Working closely with a local glass artist, our baptismal font for Liverpool Parish Church is a masterpiece in collaboration. Special features include a bespoke stone bowl, concealed lighting and stained glass panels depicting the church, its heritage and its current role in the community.

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You can find out about some of our other church furniture projects here

To discuss a project with us call us on 0113 256 7376