One consequence of the current pressure to remove pews from places of worship is the realization that the subject of historic seating in churches and chapels has been little studied. As a first attempt to tackle the topic from a Nonconformist point of view, the Chapels Society convened a conference in Birmingham in 2012, and the essays in the present volume were given as papers on that occasion.
Sitting in Chapel is, we believe, the first publication ever to have been devoted to this important subject. It includes examples from the seventeenth century to the twentieth, and looks at aspects of the construction, layout and social history of seating in Nonconformist places of worship. For the most part it focuses on types of seating that are less common in Anglican churches, or those which have a different historic significance. Illustrations are drawn from across the country, and cover a wide range of Nonconformist denominations. It is written for (and by) historians, chapel-goers, architects and people concerned about the care of historic places of worship. The essays are:
- Sitting around: some Nonconformist shapes of worship ~ Christopher Wakeling
- Seating in the Quaker Meeting House ~ David M Butler
- From joiner to architect: James Simpson and the design of pews ~ Ian Serjeant
- The survival of seating in Cornwall’s Methodist and Nonconformist chapels ~ Jeremy Lake
- Wesleyan Alhambras: tip-up seats in the Central Halls ~ Angela Connelly
Chapels Society members received a copy of this volume, the first of the new The Chapels Society Journal, as part of their membership in 2013. Members joining in subsequent years and non-members can obtain a copy at a cost of £15 including postage and packing using the Sitting in Chapel Flyer.