St Peter’s is a busy church, with many activities beyond the traditional Sunday services taking place. The church is relatively small in size but needed to retain the capacity to seat at least 350 so during its refurbishment the decision about seating was crucial. Replacing the pews with chairs allowed more versatility in the use of the building; but to maximise this the chairs had to be stackable into as small a floor area as possible. The space-saving light, strong and ergonomic 40/4 Howe chair in formed oak ply chosen for Salisbury, Ely and St Paul’s Cathedrals was the choice at St Peter’s. Their 350 (including 20 with arms) join the 8 million sold since the iconic design was created in 1964 and were supplied with high-density stacking trolleys. Those whose job it is appreciate the fact that the whole church can be cleared of chairs within half an hour, ready for the next event.
Having chosen their chairs the question of new sanctuary furniture was the next to be addressed. Treske decided to embrace the ply formed chairs by designing their very own ply formed communion table and rails; concept studies were created until the right shape and form were agreed with the church and the architects, Thomas Ford. More familiar with using solid wood for altar tables (and making matching chairs) on this occasion Treske formed the bases of the furniture from 2.5mm thick layers of solid oak built up to form 40mm thick curved sections of ply. The distinctive intersecting arched forms of the supports relate to the chancel arch which frames the view of them from the nave as well as to the curves of the Howe chairs. The key to their success however is in their functionality: the rails are easily moveable, yet strong and stable enough to give support as people kneel and rise, while they and the communion table can be moved to any position required for the wide range of services held at St Peter’s.
Treske also designed and made a specially fitted welcome desk incorporating notice boards, leaflet display area and storage. In one half of the base, two false cupboard doors form the back of a pull-out wheeled trolley containing everything needed in the way of service books and from which they can be dispensed at the church entrance. The inevitable clutter and associated problems of where to store such essential items often leads to messy compromises in terms of boards and cupboards, but this is a handsome addition to the interior of St Peter’s in its own right.