We were delighted to be commissioned to design and build new choir stalls for St Mildred’s Church in Croydon. Project brief The St Mildred’s Church community had embarked on a major makeover of the church and needed some portable choir stalls to replace the existing fixed choir stalls, making the space more flexible. The […]
We were delighted to be commissioned to design and build new choir stalls for St Mildred’s Church in Croydon.
The St Mildred’s Church community had embarked on a major makeover of the church and needed some portable choir stalls to replace the existing fixed choir stalls, making the space more flexible. The new choir stalls needed to fit with the style of the building.
This project was a collaboration between Dovetailors and the St Mildred’s Church community and was a joy to work on from start to finish.
We designed and made 8 rows of choir stalls: 2 ornate children’s stalls and screens, 4 adult stalls and 2 rear benches.
This has been a real team effort between David, Charlotte, Craig and John at Dovetailors who have worked in difficult circumstances negotiating all the challenges of lockdown and social distancing restrictions during the pandemic. It has been a triumph of collaboration, coordination, attention to detail and care to create an amazing result that we are all incredibly proud of.
The stripped down gothic architecture and arches in the church inspired our design, which uses a simple gothic arch with no fretwork.
The church community loved the simplicity of our initial designs and we moved ahead to consider some of the practical challenges.
It was a pleasure to work with the St Mildred’s church community and everyone there was very knowledgeable in terms of specification and what they wanted. We were able to meet their requirements, providing accurate computer renders and specification drawings to allow them to modify and tweak the design where necessary.
The choir stalls needed to be movable and therefore lightweight, which was not at all easy to achieve because solid oak 3m choir stalls are heavy. A significant proportion of time therefore went into reducing making most of the components hollow even though they are made of solid oak.
We made extensive use of our 5 axis CNC to produce the hollowed components and facilitate much of the angled and compound nature of the design.
When it came to final making and assembly, our traditional skills came into play as we worked with chisels, hand planes, hand sanding and a hand applied oil finish.
We made the choir stalls to be future proof. They are designed to incorporate the latest LED and sound systems with replaceable wiring panels that will allow this technology to be modified without affecting the underlying oak structure.
This project was particularly challenging because it was undertaken during the pandemic, working around lockdown with few people on site. All of our meetings were conducted remotely by video and social distancing meant we had to limit the number of people we had working on it at any one time.
During delivery we followed were careful social distancing rules, wearing masks and undertaking regular hand washing and sanitising.
- Each choir stall has integrated sheet music storage and shelving
- They are designed with a bespoke brass candle/lighting fitting
- All of the seating folds away neatly when not in use
- We have designed a set of bespoke trolleys so that the stalls can be glided away for storage, freeing up the stage for other events
What our team said
David: “This project involved highly complex CAD design with nearly 1000 components, each of which had to be specified, cut, shaped, planed, sanded and finished. Working in conjunction with St Mildred’s, through regular consultations, everything came to fruition perfectly and matched what we had planned 9 months earlier.”
Craig: “One of my favourite features is the leather strap which we added to stop the seats falling. It’s such an elegant solution to a simple problem. There was a huge amount of design and work that went in to these choir stalls that no one will ever really see or know about and it is the little finishing touches, like the leather, the polished hinges and all the screw heads facing the same way, that give an insight into the quality and the care taken.”
Charlotte: “I’ve really enjoyed being part of the planning of this big project, co-ordinating what needed to be done and delegating different parts to different people for them to go and play their own part. I’ve also loved helping out with the CAM, machining, oiling and generally being an extra pair of hands. We had regular get togethers, to discuss each stage and plan for the next stage and I am really pleased with the team effort, especially the outcome.”
What the customer said
“Dovetailors have been a pleasure to deal with, and we have really appreciated the magnificent design, thought and attention to detail, superb finish, and also the regular video updates we received throughout. Many of our parishioners have had a look at the stalls already, and everyone has said how fabulous they look, and how well they work in St Mildred’s.”