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ChurchWarden's letter - August 2020

Published in The Fippenny News of August 2020.


I thought I would explain about the removal of the pews. The removal of the
pews has been part of a planned reordering of St Andrew's Church that has been
nearly four years in the making. Three years ago there was a meeting arranged at
church for all members of the village community to attend and hear what the PCC
plans were for the future of the church, and to comment. Then there were plans drawn up, site visits by various agencies. The Victorian Society, Historic England,
Church of England, Dorset Planning Dept and some archaeologists also visited to ensure all was well and nothing of great historic interest would to be disturbed. This then went before a board at the Diocese of Salisbury for permission. In order that we could be granted permission we had to inform villagers of our intentions via
Fippenny News, notices on the church, and other local means. All then had time to
write to the Diocese and either lodge an objection or support the reordering. The
Diocese received no letters of complaint and if I remember correctly 11 letters of
support from village residents. Something that amazed them as it is usually the
other way round.
I am sure that many people will feel sad that the pews they grew up with are
being removed. But sadly few of the locals who attended church as children now
attend, other than for weddings, funerals and maybe church festivals. Churches are
not museums, they are living buildings where people go to express their faith and
the needs of each generation change, even more quickly today than in the past.
Sadly a Victorian church does not lend itself to being inclusive in the 21st Century, no space for wheelchairs or pushchairs; no toilet facilities for the disabled. nor facility to make tea and coffee.
However, I would like to reassure you that the Jacobean pews are being retained
as are a few of the Victorian ones. If you would like me to explain to you in
person what is planned I am happy to meet with you at the Church. This project of
pew removal has been brought forward due to seating restrictions caused by Covid
19. Which will be with us for a longtime.
I hope this explains what is going on and how we got there.
Sue Le Riche
Church Warden

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