NEW chairs have arrived at St Mary’s Church in Witney as part of a £2m refurbishment of the historic building.

The place of worship in Church Green has replaced most of its 32 pews with 160 chairs to create a more flexible space for community events.

The latest 80 chairs arrived on Monday. The Rev Toby Wright, team rector, pictured, said: “For many years the vision has been to recapture the sense of the building being for the community. The chairs will give the church a much greater flexibility and allow the building to be used to more creative ways.”

The church hopes to eventually increase the number of chairs to 300.

The work is part of a £600,000 second phase of a restoration project at the 13th century church which also includes fitting under-floor heating.

Work to fix the roof, following a £300,000 fundraising effort, was completed in December 2010.

St Mary’s escaped a costly legal battle in December after the Victorian Society objected to the removal of the pews.

The society said the pews were historically important but then pulled out of the hearing, due to support the church had gathered.

Picture: OX57513 Ric Mellis