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Cathedral pews up for sale as maintenance costs soar

St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle which dates back to the 1400s, is to sell 35 of its Victorian-era oak pews to raise money ahead of a £6m renovation.

Project chiefs said the decoratively carved benches, made in the 1880s, could become garden furniture or be used in hotels and restaurants.

They will be sold on a first come, first served basis for upwards of £450 and it is hoped the sales will raise up to £20,000.

Their replacement will be "plain, simple benches and chairs" which can be moved about easily for concerts and community events. Pews in the choir area will be left in place.

It comes after Durham Cathedral raised £125,000 by auctioning off 85 weather-beaten pieces of stonework which dated back to the mid-1800s. 

Lindy Gilliland, who is managing the St Nicholas Cathedral project, said "many" churches and cathedrals in the UK are selling items to raise money for maintenance.

She told the BBC: "Christmas is the cathedral's busiest time so we will only have a short period to take them out before works start in mid-January.

"The pews are mid-Victorian era, from approximately 1882 when the parish church became a cathedral, and are very solid with beautiful decorative carving at the ends.

"It's a shame to lose them, but we will keep six decorative ends as a record as well as documentary photos."

The cathedral was awarded £4.2m of lottery funding this year, which will go towards an overhaul that church leaders say will "revitalise" the medieval building. 

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