A row has broken out over an Aberdeen church’s plans to replace its historic wooden pews.
Following decades of complaints from uncomfortable worshippers, the seating at St Machar’s Cathedral will be replaced next month.
The church says the seats, which were installed in 1867, “are narrow and upright and lack both comfort and any aesthetic merit”.
Earlier this year the Church of Scotland granted permission to replace them with lighter, moveable pews, making it easier for the disabled and elderly to navigate the cathedral.
Repairs to the roof and windows, and the building of an extension, are also planned.
While the congregation may welcome the thought being given to their comfort, Aberdeen Civic Society has hit out at the move claiming it will “radically alter” the character of the building, parts of which date back to the 14th century.
A spokesman from the society said: “The options of refurbishing the existing pews or installing more traditional replacement pews have been discarded in favour of modern seating, more in the style of a park bench.
“This modernisation would begin this summer and would be financed largely by a legacy from the late Norman Marr, a leading and respected figure in the Aberdeen Civic Society over many decades.
“We may wonder what Norman would have made of this radical alteration to the character and appearance of this much-loved historic building.”
Alan Grant, session clerk at St Machar’s Cathedral, said he was confident the new vision for seating was in the best interests of the church.
“Norman loved the Cathedral and was keen that money be spent in enhancing its appearance,” Mr Grant said.
“Of course, as he sadly died before the work was commissioned, we do not know if he would have endorsed our choice. Nor does anyone else.
“It is true that there have been some negative comments received and we recognise the sincerity of those views.
“But we are confident that we have produced a design which is totally in keeping with the surroundings, is comfortable for all of its future users, and will allow St Machar’s to go on being a place of worship and sanctuary for future generations.”