Nave Sanctuary Furniture

Norwich Cathedral

Client – The Dean & Chapter of Norwich Cathedral
Date of Completion – 1998

From the beginning there has been an altar in the east end of the nave of Norwich Cathedral immediately to the west of the choir: the Romanesque plan had a nave sanctuary with the altar of the Holy Cross. Since then, the nave sanctuary had been reordered many times when, in 1996, the Dean and Chapter decided that a new layout was needed. A mock-up arrangement was undertaken by WS Lusher & Son of Norwich under the direction of the then acting Surveyor of the Fabric, Hugh Feilden. This mock-up was crucial to the success of the ergonomics of the final scheme, which was designed by Henry Freeland following his appointment as Surveyor in 1997.

Henry Freeland’s design of the finished stalls was quite different from the mock-up. The final scheme comprises a central altar raised on an oval dais three steps up from the floor of the nave, with two rows of curved choir stalls at the east edge. Not only are the stalls curved on plan, but their sloping seat backs, reading desks and arched fronts all gave their fair share of geometric puzzles to solve. The stalls are simple in design, solidly massed with bold arcading to the stall fronts which are carved to give the impression of intersecting Romanesque arches. Great skill was required and displayed by the WS Lusher’s joiners, who had to carefully select the right oak and work almost every piece to a curve.  The oak is finished with polish to match the organ case designed by Stephen Dykes-Bower above the pulpitum. A moveable music stand, from which the Director of Music can conduct the choir, and a lectern, both in English oak, have since been added.

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