Tuesday 28 August 2012

Moveable altar

I refer to the latest post by Father Finnigan here where he discusses the removal of a front temporary altar.
When I first came to Barnard Castle in November 2001, the sanctuary of St Mary's had been 'modernised' a few years previously: the altar rails had been taken from their proper place and fixed to the lowest step of the gradus, the floor was raised  by a platform covered in a green carpet and projected out towards the nave; otherwise no changes took place. Except of course that a front altar was put in place (I understand that the altar was made from the recycled pulpit and confessional - the confessional was one of those with a curtain shielding the priest and penitent where everybody could hear what you confessed and the penance which you were given!)
(This is the Christmas altar in 2010)
After celebrating the TLM for some time with the front altar in place, I casually mentioned to my all-round handyman, Joe Wilson, that it would be nice if we had wheels on the front altar and could roll it out of the way. He devised a system of levers and wheels which lowers the wheels and lifts the altar so that one man  is able to move the altar easily.
Then we took the rails and put them back in their proper place, so that the space on the sanctuary is what it used to be, and on occasion, for traditional weddings, we can bring them forward to create even more space for ceremonies.

And Hey Presto! We have a traditional sanctuary, looking much as it has done from 1928 until some time in the 90's.  In the photo, you can see the front altar to the left-hand side of the sanctuary behind the rails.

The mechanism for moving the altar is not patented, and I am sure that Joe would be pleased if someone decided to copy his handiwork!


  1. How did you manage that Father? You must have a wonderful parish council who are all still Catholic! You & I know of other priests who would love to 're-reorder' their churches but face hostility from almost all sides.
    Never mind Joe patenting the moving mechanism, perhaps you should patent the handling of parish councils - you'd make a fortune!!

  2. Dear Fr.

    Many, many, congratulations on carrying out what so many people have wished for over the last forty years.

    Can I, please, order 15,000 of Joe's "moving mechanism" ?

    in Domino.

  3. Is there a heavy duty version available? I know a number of churches where there are simnilar arrangements but the table altar has been constructed in stone. :-)

  4. Sorry Matthaeus the Joe altar-moving model only works on wooden tables!

  5. Do you use the moveable altar on moveable feast days?