Liturgical Furnishings

Changing liturgical practices, and the diversifying uses of cathedral buildings, may make a cathedral Chapter want to make changes to how their cathedral is furnished.

We can help you weigh your options.

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Bradford Cathedral Lion Pew


Fundamental Issues
Making sure all your policies and plans are consistent

A framework for decision-making

Shifting styles of worship
The significance of specific items of furniture
Storage of retired items

Preparing an application

Any proposals for change should be informed by a suite of documents that take a holistic view of the use and future development of the cathedral, and which should be prepared independently of any specific application.

In the case of proposals affecting liturgical furnishings, the relevant documents are likely to be the cathedral’s Inventory, Liturgical Plan and Collections Management Policy (which should include a Disposals Policy). Sections of the cathedral’s Conservation Management Plan and Visitor Engagement Plan may also be of relevance. If it is proposed to commission additional or replacement liturgical furnishings this should be undertaken in line with a cathedral’s Arts Policy.

When considering changes to liturgical furnishings, the first step will be to assess their significance. You should consult your Fabric Advisory Committee at this stage, and may also wish to seek additional expert advice.

Alongside an assessment of significance, you should also review the use of the item(s) in the day-to-day life and worship of the cathedral, with particular reference to the cathedral’s Liturgical Plan. You should try to make this an objective review of pros and cons, rather than an argument for a particular course of action.

If these assessments lead to a conclusion that removal of an item is liturgically desirable, and justifiable in terms of impact on significance, you should appraise your options for reuse, storage and disposal of the item.

These documents should then be presented to your Fabric Advisory Committee, and in the case of items of outstanding significance, to the Cathedrals Fabric Commission, for advice. You may also wish to consult Historic England and the national amenity societies at this stage.

Once options have been fully explored, an application to the relevant body for the removal of the item from the cathedral for storage, loan or disposal should be made.

Permission to alter, lend or dispose of any item on the cathedral inventory must be obtained from the Fabric Advisory Committee or, in the case of items of outstanding interest, from the Cathedrals Fabric Commission.

Items that are fixed to or permanently situated in a cathedral (such as a font, pulpit or cathedra) are considered part of the fabric of the building, and their removal or relocation therefore requires approval from the Fabric Advisory Committee or Cathedrals Fabric Commission. Moveable items, such as vestments or candlesticks, may be relocated without formal approval, but any new permanent location should be recorded on the cathedral inventory.

Further advice on making an application is available here

Further Information

The Liturgy and Liturgical Furnishings Working Group can offer advice on proposals affecting liturgical furnishings and on the preparation of a liturgical plan. The Group is formed of members of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission, the Church Buildings Council, and other experts. To consult the Group please contact the Commission’s Secretariat.