Proud moments for everyone in the Luke Hughes team when so many previous projects for buildings of worship across the country featured so prominently during the arrangements for Her Late Majesty the Queen's state funeral.
Apparently, the ceremonies were watched by 5.1 billion people world-wide (and by 28 million in the UK).
The entrance of the Heralds into St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh set the stage for the most prominent part of the funeral procession in Scotland. In the middle of the building rests the monolithic Holy Table in Carara marble, designed in 2008 and dedicated in the presence of the Princess Royal in 2011. In the words of architectural writer, Aidan Walker: ‘the Holy Table exerts an uncanny luminescent force in the low light of the interior. The supporting layer of black Nero Marquinha marble stops short of the table’s edges, creating shadow gaps all round and generating the illusion that the table is floating’. Luke Hughes says ‘dressing the stone was key to getting the rhythm and harmony of the whole things. I wanted it to gleam, to stand out as a focus of light. It needed to glow but not with that vulgar sheen you get in hotel foyers – it needed to throw light, not just shine. Its success depends on its hand-chiselled texture’.
In Westminster Abbey, as the Queen’s coffin was borne from the West door up to the sanctuary, the clergy were arrayed in front of the walnut benches, originally designed to complement the restoration of the magnificent 13th century mosaic, set with semi-precious stones, known as the Cosmati Pavement. The clergy seating was first used for the Papal visit in September 2010, featured prominently during the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton in April 2011 and at all major services ever since.
Other Luke Hughes chapel furniture played its part in the private Rutland Chantry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. This includes a collection of liturgical furniture (including altar, movable lectern, prayer desks and chapel seating), although this was not paraded in front of the TV cameras on this occasion.
As former Head of the Church of England, the Queen’s portrait was also mounted in every church in the country, including on Luke Hughes’ designs for altars of Chester, Bristol, Ely and St Albans’ Cathedrals and also in the Chapels Royal of St Peter ad Vincula and St John the Evangelist in the Tower of London (where all the furniture in both buildings was designed and supplied by the Luke Hughes team).
Above: Demountable Altar and Dais below the crossing at Ely Cathedral
Below: St Mary the Virgin, Oxford
Above: The Rutland Chantry, St George's Chapel, Windsor
It was a great honour, through our team’s skill and experience, to have made a small contribution to these historic moments, and for the world to witness how these magnificent architectural settings are still relevant for their intended purpose. Much of that relevance relies on those elements that enable both the buildings and the rituals to be capable of being performed – the furniture.