New Guidance: Liturgical furnishing in English Cathedrals

“Changing liturgical practices, and the diversifying uses of cathedral buildings, may make a cathedral Chapter want to make changes to how their cathedral is furnished”

On 20 January 2020, the Cathedral Fabric Commission for England (CFCE) issued Liturgical furnishing in English Cathedrals: Storage, Movement, Retention & Disposal. This new guidance on Liturgical Furnishings is to assist cathedral Chapters who want to make changes to how their cathedrals are furnished. Its purpose is summarized in the Introduction:

“Issues associated with the retention, retirement, movement or disposal of liturgical furnishings in English cathedrals have become more prominent owing to a series of reordering projects over recent years. Decisions as to whether items of liturgical furniture can or should be moved, retired, stored or disposed of revolve around two principal issues: how changes in liturgical needs and thinking impact upon the use of the cathedral as a sacred space; and the heritage significance of the objects concerned and of their wider setting.

The future of objects retired from use must also be considered. Methods of storage, accessibility for future reuse and options for disposal all have conservation and financial implications. Although very few cathedrals have museum or archives accreditation they are increasingly expected to care for their collections to appropriate heritage standards, which can be both time-consuming and expensive.

Set out below are some initial guidelines on the treatment of existing liturgical furnishings for cathedrals considering major changes. These are not intended to be exhaustive, but we hope they may offer some pointers to cathedral architects, administrators, chapters and Fabric Advisory Committees weighing their options for change.

Any proposals for change should have robust justification and be informed by a detailed understanding of the significance of the objects or fabric affected, as articulated in a Liturgical Plan, Conservation Management Plan, the cathedral Inventory, and other relevant documents. Guidance on the production of these documents is available on the  ChurchCare website.

This guidance note should be read alongside the Commission’s general User’s Guide to the Care of Cathedral Measure.”

The 18-page document includes guidance on: A framework for decision-making, with regard to shifting styles of worship, assessing significance, inventories, and storage of disposal of retired items; Preparing an application; and Further information.


Quick links to al the ChurchCare Guidance Notes are here.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "New Guidance: Liturgical furnishing in English Cathedrals" in Law & Religion UK, 20 January 2020,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *