An Amble woman has boycotted her church in objection to the removal of some of its traditional pews, which she has branded an act of vandalism.
Vivienne Dalgliesh has been left devastated after 10 pews were taken out of the town’s St Cuthbert’s Church in order to create space for functions.
The 65-year-old has attended the church all her life, but said it went against the grain to use it for anything other than religious services.
However, the Diocese of Newcastle, which signed off on the plans, said that with diminishing congregation numbers, using the space to the best advantage was crucial.
But Vivienne argued: “I think it is an act of vandalism, to remove something that is beautiful.”
She tried to block the changes by taking her protest to the Church of England Consistory Court.
She claimed in letters before the court that the removal of the pews would leave an ‘ugly space’ in her beloved church - but her appeal failed.
Vivienne is now facing a second Christmas away from the church. When asked about how it is impacting her, she said: “I am not going for a reason, therefore it is fine. I don’t have to be in church to be a Christian.”
A Diocese spokesman added that the space is at an interim stage at the moment and is not yet the finished product.
Vivienne said she would only consider going back once the church was restored.
She said: “By that, I mean fitting for the church building, i.e. nicely presented, which is not the state that it is in at the moment.
“When it is finished, it might look nice, but I don’t know how many years down the line it will be.”
diocese of Newcastle
A spokesman said: “There are three times as many pews as are normally filled on a regular service. Removing a few of the pews has opened up an area of the church which just didn’t get very much use. It will make the church more accessible to people with mobility issues, it will be used for functions, and it will make daily church life easier.”
He said it was regrettable that
she doesn’t want to go there and hopes she will return.