CAPTION: Martin Mawson, Landworks Operations Manager, collected the pews with a team of volunteers from the charity

Exeter church pews for the chop in the name of charity

Posted: 30th August, 2019

A church in Exeter which is undergoing renovation has donated its pews to a Devon charity which works with prisoners nearing release and those at risk of going to prison.

Around 20 pews from St Matthews (St Matts), in Newtown,  have been given to the Landworks charity in Dartington.

The charity said the pews, which are thought to date from the 1930s, would be made into chopping boards, cookbook holders, turned bowls, plates, garden benches and more.

Some pews will be kept as seats for quiet contemplation.

Claire Limberg, Landworks Business Manager, said: “These pews have provided a wonderful source of seasoned oak.

“We are able to salvage every last piece of wood and even the screws and brackets are being kept to be reused.

“A few of the pews will be kept intact to offer a seat in a quiet area of our site at LandWorks for a moment of contemplation during a busy day.

“All products will be available in our road side shop on the Dartington Estate. Visit the Landworks website for directions.”

The modernisation work at St Matthews is part of a £1.3m Diocese of Exeter project to reach out to Exeter’s 30,000 students and build links with local homeless charities and organisations working with prisoners and ex-offenders.

The money has come from the Church of England’s Strategic Development Fund.

Josh Chesworth, St Matts new worship pastor, said: “The pews have now gone.

“The main church area is going to be carpeted and it’ll be great to have so much space to worship in.

“I think it’s a great charity that we have given the pews to and they are going to be made into all sorts of things.

“The church had chairs before it had pews so maybe we’re going back to the most traditional St Matthews!”

The St Matts congregation is currently meeting in the church hall and hopes to move back into the refurbished church building in time for a launch at the end of the university’s Freshers’ Week on 29 September.