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Teachers make papal chair

By on Friday, 20 August 2010

The 8ft chair is made of white ash and will be fitted with stained glass panels

The 8ft chair is made of white ash and will be fitted with stained glass panels

The chair that Pope Benedict XVI will sit on during the beatification Mass of Cardinal Newman has been completed by teachers in Coventry.

The chair, made of white ash, was designed and crafted by Ian Hall, deputy head at Cardinal Newman school, with the help of two senior staff members.

The team have been working for three months to build not only the chair but three altars and a lectern that will also be used for the Mass.

Mr Hall, who worked as an engineer for 20 years before becoming a teacher, said they had worked weekends and for most of the summer holiday.

He said he wanted people to understand that the project was “not just about making pieces of furniture”.

“I’m a golf fanatic and for me it’s like being asked to play in the Ryder Cup,” he said. “It’s a way of giving something back to the faith. My children will be able to see it and say ‘my Dad made that’.”

The 8ft chair will be fitted with four stained glass panels depicting the images on the papal coat of arms: the bear, the moor’s head and the keys of St Peter. The shell on the velour cover is also taken from the papal crest.

The three altars, which will be finished next week, will be made out of white ash and fitted with stained glass. Side by side they will measure 18 feet across.

Mr Hall, who worked as a pattern maker for Rover and then at a small foundry in Gloucestershire, was helped with design by Paul Marano, assistant head teacher, and Frances Grearson, deputy head. He was also helped by his son, Christian.

He got involved in the project after Fr Timothy Menezes, parish priest at St Thomas More in Coventry, asked the school’s head teacher if she knew anyone who was up to the job.

The designs were approved by officials at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

  • nytor

    shouldn't an altar have a stone in it?

  • Leon

    could it look any cheaper and what use would it have afterwards?St Chad's Cathedral and Oscott College must be full of sutiable chairs

  • burritobob

    That's harsh. It looks like a perfectly good chair to me – and made with devotion

  • Rip Karydas

    Oh, what a disappointment! The papal throne looks quite cheap and distasteful. How much more time it would take to leave the 70s the behind us?

  • leon

    its a few planks of wood and a velour cushion,why would it have stained glass placed on the back?I suppose that makes it look “churchy”. Either use something historical or choose a design that represents noble simplicity, heraldry is not to be used as decoration . Am I the only person who feels totally powerless in the face of the awfulness that is surrounding the Papal Visit?The offical merchandise has the cross keys from wikipedia stuck on anything,the music at the vigil includes shine Jesus shine etc..The eyes of the nation will be focused on the Church for a few short days and the newspapers will be full of abuse cases and what alternative is being provided?We need to be promoting the Catholic origins of this country through art , history and music and leave an overall impression that the Church cares passionately about souls , not displaying well meaning tat and wasting more money. Who has white ash furniture and red velour cushions in their own home?

  • maryvelor

    I have white ash furniture with red velor cushions throughout and I consider it very tasteful. I'm sure his Holiness will be very comfortable on his throne and think the craftsmen should be congratulated on their creative efforts.

  • David Armitage


  • Mitch


  • Deesis

    Ugly and unworthy. It looks like a cheap kitchen cabinet or a 1970's coffee table “Groovy man”!
    No “it wasn't about making pieces of furniture” Its about reflecting the banality and shoddiness of modern man and women.
    The Ikea Mass is coming your way. So cheap and comes in a flat pack!
    What sort of fools could have designed and approved these things?
    Perhaps it is that very English way of insulting guests. Give them the ugly chair!

  • Deesis

    Are you sure?

  • colin

    I know that the chair and altar were made with such care, pride and precision by the staff and pupils at Cardinal Newman school. Great dedication and many hours of their own time and hard work went into its manufacture.

    It seems such a shame that some of the comments are so derogatory. I wonder if the people making the comments would ever commit such effort to anything without expecting payment or praise.

    It was obvious to me that the pupils and staff at the school did it purely for their love of their faith.

    I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to help design and make the stained glass for the alter and chair.

    I am not a catholic or religious in anyway but can only say how privileged I feel to have been able to help the people involved in this project. If everyone worked with the same enthusiasm and endeavor as the Cardinal Newman crew perhaps this country wouldnt be in the mess it now finds itself. I am sure that if Leon, Deesis and RIP Karydas knew just a little about the efforts made by Cardinal Newman school to produce the chair and altar they may be inclined to temper their cynical comments accordingly. I agree it may not alter your personal opinion of the design but I can assure you that many people did not see the results with the same eyes as your own.