CONGREGATION members at a Ross-on-Wye church sat on the pews for a final time on Sunday.

With leaders at St Mary's Church in Ross keen to create a "21st Century space for all," the pews, which have been in use since 1862, are set to be replaced with stackable wooden chairs in a bid to create a more flexible space for community use.

"Crucial to the whole vision for the building is the unlocking of the internal space. This cannot happen until the poor quality and badly fitting Victorian pews are removed," the church said.

"The grid-lock created by ranks of pews all facing the front is just about okay for more formal worship and for concerts, but not very comfortable for parties and dances and not conducive to art exhibitions, conferences and workshops."

Phase one saw the removal of all pews and replacement of floors in the south aisle and to the west of the crossing having already taken place in November last year.

Builders moved back in on February 4 to begin phase two, which will see the removal of the remaining pews, replacement of floors and the instillation of additional electricity outlets in the central nave and north aisle.

It is anticipated that work on phase two of the project will be completed by the end of March.

For more information about the project and the vision for the future, visit