A modern complement to a medieval masterpiece


FURNITURE SOLUTION. Secretary of The Friends Miss Jane Erith said that a yearlong extensive research was carried out by the Cathedral to determine the type and brand of chair. "In competition with other quality furniture the HOWE 40/4 was chosen," Ms Erith said. "It has been in production since 1964, has long proven its durability, and is successfully used in St. Paul's Cathedral in London and elsewhere."  


MOTIVATION. “Vergers of the Building and Estate Department found that the chairs are easily moveable,” said Mr Peter Edds, Head of Building and Estate. He added that emphasis also was put on the fact that the 40/4 is a comfortable and light chair, stackable in storage, ready for the many various services and events of the Cathedral. Former Head Verger at Salisbury cathedral Mr. Chris Crooks said that in his opinion the 40/4 in many ways would "revolutionise the way we use, move, and store the chairs services and events.” 


APPLICATION. The Salisbury Cathedral solution embraces a total of 1800 chairs, all in the English oak edition. The majority are placed in the Cathedral main nave in rows of 16 chairs, eight on each side of a central isle. The HOWE 40/4 seating system extends throughout the building. The replacement of the old seating was completed in 2005. 


ARCHITECT'S EVALUATION. Architectural consultant to Salisbury Cathedral, Michael Drury, "It is quite a challenge to find a contemporary design which will fit into a medieval context, especially when the architecture is among the best in the world. In my opinion the HOWE 40/4 chair performs adequately in that setting. Especially I'm satisfied with the fact that the system functions extremely well, allowing the interior to be seen uncluttered by seating more frequently. The framework of the 40/4 reveals rather than obscures the stone floors, making the interior of the Cathedral appear lighter." 


CLIENT'S EVALUATION. "Our concern was to find a seating solution which would provide comfort, flexibility, and stackability" said secretary of the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral, Jane Erith. "I think we've got it with David Rowland's design." At the end of 2005 individuals and companies had sponsored more than 1000 chairs, and the campaign continues. "It's a daunting and exciting project, our biggest undertaking yet," Miss Jane Erith said.



Find local contact

Salisbury Cathedral is a beautiful, historic building, an international symbol of Christianity and a world-class heritage attraction. Salisbury is unique amongst medieval English cathedrals, for the major part built within a generation (1220-1258). The building itself is remarkable, a testimony to the faith and practical skills of those who erected it. Salisbury to the southwest of London is a centre of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Every day, century after century, people come here to worship. So in 2003 the 60-year old chairs of the Salisbury Cathedral were ready for a much-needed replacement. 


The existing chairs in the cathedral were uncomfortable, expensive to repair, heavy and awkward to move around. As the Cathedral is host of many different events, chairs often need to be moved, removed and stacked. However, the design of the furniture also must respect the dignified environment of the Cathedral. A contemporary design therefore must accommodate those values and specifications. Also the chair must be extremely sturdy and durable, unaffected by numerous changes and intensive handling.


The Friends of Salisbury Cathedral undertook to fund the project to provide 1800 chairs and in April 2003 a Chair Appeal was launched. Sponsorship of individual chairs was invited from individuals and companies, with the option of having dedication plaques placed on the chairs. 

“Our concern was to find a seating solution which would provide comfort, flexibility and stackability. I think we've got it - and much more - with David Rowland's design.”


Secretary of the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral

Jane Erith

Haven for thoughts

We passionately create flexible furniture solutions that provide a haven for creative reflection and liberation of thoughts.

The 40/4 chair has a light and airy aesthetic as well as superb seating comfort. It constantly proves that a pioneering design stands the test of time and continues to move cherished spaces in new ways.

Through timeless design, HOWE solutions strive to enhance the architecture, whether historical or modern.



Get the latest news, inspiration, stories and events
right in your inbox.

HOWE guaranteeS a long-lasting and environmental solution performing strong on function and aesthetics


Get in touch