Design for a Nave Altar

on Thu 22 Jun


A New Nave Altar for the Church of Saint Nicholas of Myra, Brighton


Sometimes things are not meant to be. Or rather, just not yet. We first talked to the folk at St Nicholas’ Church (Brighton's oldest church) about designing and making them a new Nave Altar before lockdown.

With a plan to make the church's space more versatile for a wider range of activities, the church council wished to replace the existing large, heavy, fixed altar.


It was a challenging brief as the new altar needed to be light enough to be moved easily by two people but of a size to sit harmoniously in the large nave area. They wanted simplicity, but some decorative elements (which included designing some candle holders); in a vernacular style but paying homage to church’s long history and its many influences. And, of course, for it to be very durable.

 After a few super-light iterations in ash, we settled on a frame in English oak with the top in elm - Brighton's long history as an elm-growing region (and one of the few areas where Dutch elm disease has not eliminated the entire stock) was a factor here.

As ever in the ecclesiastical space, the design and approval process was lengthy and there were many opinions to be considered, but eventually our altar design achieved ‘Faculty' from the Diocese. 


Time marches on but so do economic pressures, to the point where, as we made arrangements to begin the build, it was decided the time was no longer right for this to come into being.

A shame but we do understand - these decisions are not taken lightly. We share some of the drawings here as we think they deserve an outing, and to show what might have been. 

 And, with good fortune, who knows, one day it will be built?



 Note.  As drawings, the colour tones here are only indicative. The Christogram and Consecration Crosses are hand-carved cut-outs with gilded edges and stained glass mounted behind. The elm top accommodates the moveable Altar Stone (usually kept in the chancel). The top is removable too and the design features ‘litter poles’, plus roller balls set into the base, which would make moving the altar easier still.


 Design by Rickard Furniture. Drawings by Andy Fitzgerald (



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