It was an enormous privilege to be approached by the Dean of Newport Cathedral for help to create a new altar for this historic place of worship and to work with the cathedral community to evolve their ideas and bring them to reality. Project brief Having seen and liked our church furniture design work for […]
It was an enormous privilege to be approached by the Dean of Newport Cathedral for help to create a new altar for this historic place of worship and to work with the cathedral community to evolve their ideas and bring them to reality.
Having seen and liked our church furniture design work for Wakefield Cathedral, the Dean of Newport Cathedral initially approached us for advice on creating a similar mobile altar following some renovation work that had been carried out to the building. Mobility allows for a more flexible use of space, which is important in today’s multi-functional places of worship.
An initial design had already been sketched which was inspired by the cathedral’s Romanesque arches and we worked with this concept. Drawing on our experience with Newport we considered how to evolve Newport’s vision into a practical and striking altar that would serve the community for generations to come.
We started by tweaking the proportions, making the arches functional and slightly more imposing. As the design evolved they became more monoilithic in nature and we proposed some marquetry design to the top.
The design went through a number of iterations before being signed off by the Cathedral team, During this process we found it really useful to develop renders which were as true to life as possible. This meant the team in Newport could easily visualise the outcome and make informed decisions.
We also worked on our own mechanism to place the altar on free running casters and we developed our own oak mechanical stops to fix the altar in position. All of this mechanism is concealed within the inner structure of the altar’s legs.
Our biggest challenge
Building the massive oak arch structure was no easy task. The altar’s size made it awkward to handle and great care was needed to make the large parquetry altar top using oak and bird’s eye maple. We had to be sure all the components would come together perfectly and fit accurately.
An altar of this size can be incredibly heavy which is impractical when the cathedral team needs to move it. For this reason we put a lot of effort into lightening it, adding cavities and hollow spaces within the structure without compromising on strength and durability. We aimed to strike a balance between the altar being too light or too heavy.
- Design inspired by the Newport cathedral community
- Impressive oak arch structure
- Reduced weight through thoughtful design
- Free running castors making it easy to move
- Beautiful marquetry detailing
Furniture making skills
- oak jointing
- marquetry book matching inlay
What our team says
David says: “I’m particularly pleased with the concealed recess set behind the legs where the stops can be operated as these are very beautiful. They are very elegant and subtle, which is ideal because they are visible but not obvious. As there is no moving mechanism, there is noting that can break down and need repair.”