However, that secular purpose had now returned. “The revived use of churches for appropriate secular purposes is now recognised as both a service to the community and as an aid to the mission of the church,” he said. The Victorian Society said it was considering an appeal. James Hughes, its churches conservation adviser, said: “The nave pews are unique to the Abbey and are excellent examples of Scott’s work, with the carved pew ends modelled on surviving medieval examples in other 16th century Somerset churches. “The Victorian Society believes that their loss will significantly diminish the Abbey’s architectural and historical significance.”The pews are set to be replaced with stackable wooden chairs, which will be finished in a colour which matches existing wood in the Abbey’s interior. The Society also raised concerns about the chairs carrying enough space for hymn books and song sheets, but the Abbey argued that these were being phased out and replaced by screens. Representatives had argued that “in practice, the use of books and service sheets was progressively being superseded by portable display screens. My conclusion is that if any inconvenience was to arise from the lack of a shelf for books and papers, it would not be a long-term problem,” the Chancellor said. How the Abbey currently looks Credit:Victorian Society In his judgment Mr Briden argued that the Scott seating was a “product of its age” and was installed in part because “the medieval use of the nave for secular purposes had long been abandoned”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Revd Edward Mason of Bath Abbey said: “We strongly believe in the benefits of removing the pews. It will enable us to open up the Abbey’s nave and side aisles to all and make it possible for people of different physical ability to sit where they choose. “Stackable chairs mean that the nave can be used for a wide variety of traditional and contemporary worship and restore the Abbey to the community use for which it was first designed.” The plan is part of a £19.3m renovation of the Abbey which will restore a collapsing floor, install an eco-friendly heating system and create new meeting rooms and facilities including a kitchen and cloakrooms. The Abbey was first founded in the 7th century and was substantially rebuilt and restored in the 16th century and again in the 19th century. Churches don’t need pews any more because they are increasingly used for bake sales and art exhibitions, a church court has said, as it ruled Bath Abbey can remove its Victorian pews. The Chancellor of the Diocese of Bath and Wells has ruled that the Abbey is allowed to remove the 19th century seating despite the opposition of conservation group the Victorian Society. In his ruling on the case he commented that while the pews had “moderate” architectural significant they were no longer appropriate because of the changing use of churches. Representatives for the Abbey argued that the nave of the church was used for “a wide variety of social and cultural purposes, including concerts, art exhibitions, university degree ceremonies and charity events such as the ‘Great Bath Bake Sale’.”They added that the pews were also uncomfortable, an argument which the Chancellor, Timothy Briden, said was “well-founded” after testing them himself. The comfort issue is “accentuated” at secular events such as concerts and ceremonies which involve “prolonged sitting”, the Abbey said. The Abbey’s current interior was designed by eminent Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert-Scott, who delegated the actual creation of the pews to colleagues and craftsmen, the Chancellor said.