FOR SALE: 150-year-old church pews – can be carpentered to fit any space.

This parish church has joined the growing number in Oxfordshire pulling out their pews in a bid to become more flexible community hubs.

Holy Trinity in Charlton, Wantage, is flogging its Victorian oak benches for £150 each, and has even recruited a local carpenter who will (for an extra fee) modify the seats to fit into the average family home.

Churchwarden Bob Chaplow said: "I don't know quite where they're putting them –I think some people are cutting them down to fit in their living room."

Many of the pews were made by carpenter William Butterfield from as early as 1848 when the church itself was built.

Mr Chaplow added: "The only thing remaining of the original church was the original wall and two pews, so we are retaining one of them as a historical connection."

The profits from the pews will go towards a massive £359,000 refurb which aims to turn the church into a more accessible community space.

Two new extensions will give the church a kitchen and disabled toilets for the first time alongside new heating and lighting and step-free access to the church.

And, of course, the heavy oak pews will be replaced with lightweight wooden chairs which can easily be moved, making the hall a more flexible space.

Mr Chaplow explained: "The Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, said in a recent interview that one of his objectives was to see pews taken out of most of the churches in his diocese to allow buildings to be used more flexibly.

"There is a general recognition that it is much better for the community.

"If you replace heavy old benches with chairs you can clear the floor area much more quickly."

Holy Trinity, like most churches, already hosts community groups and social events, but hopes the overhaul will make it more attractive to parent and toddler groups, yoga classes, and the Wantage Silver Band, which recently held a concert there.

Mr Chaplow said: "It's really a recognition that the church is more than just a building for worship on a Sunday."

Holy Trinity is only the latest in Oxfordshire to adopt this progressive attitude: as long ago as 2013, Bishop of Dorchester Colin Fletcher said as many as 20 per cent of Oxfordshire’s more than 300 Church of England sites had undergone such makeovers, and praised their ambition.

One thoroughly modern place of worship is Oxford Community Church, based at the King's Centre, in Osney Mead. Administrator Louise Wright said: "We're in a former warehouse with a hall that can seat a thousand people if we need it to but we've also had go karting in there as well.

"We find the flexibility is really useful and helps us with our community focus, which is at the heart of the Christian faith and I think something that's been lost a lot in this country."

Liz Kitch, secretary to the Oxford Diocesan Advisory Committee, said this month: "The Diocese of Oxford are keen for churches to be used as centres of community.

"This can sometimes be difficult when the church is heavily pewed so the DAC regularly work with parishes to reach a compromise enabling flexible use of the building, whilst retaining significant historic fabric."

Mr Chaplow said Holy Trinity would close for its five-month refurbishment after a final service on Sunday, August 13, and reopen in January.

Until then, the congregation of between 40 and 100 will meet for worship at Wantage Parish Church from August 20.