Kenilworth Old Bench Matt Scale Model Bench
Kenilworth Old Bench Matt Scale Model Bench

Historic Kenilworth Castle will soon feature a new Mayors’ Bench designed and built by a furniture crafts student from Royal Leamington Spa College.

Kenilworth Town Council have commissioned the bench to replace one which has been in situ for many years, and features plaques with names of all the town’s mayors on it. The bench is semicircular so it can fit around a tree in the grounds of the castle, which is managed by English Heritage.

The town council approached Jamie Ward, curriculum leader for furniture crafts, about the project and Jamie briefed the students who then came up with their designs. Matt Brown’s design was chosen and he is currently working on creating the bench which is due to be installed later this year.

Matt, from Aston-le-Walls said, “I was really pleased to have been chosen to make the new Mayors’ Bench. My design is modern, but I’ve incorporated traditional elements such as the mortise and tenon joints - and it’s made of English Oak so it will fit in well with the setting.”

Matt is studying for a Level 2 Furniture Crafts qualification after deciding to change careers. He said, “I was working for a windscreen company, so deciding to do this course was a bit of a leap of faith. It’s all been worth it though because as well as studying, I have a job at NEJ Stevenson furniture makers, who hold a royal warrant. And to have the bench I’ve designed and created in Kenilworth Castle for visitors to see and use is a real honour.”

Leader of Kenilworth Town Council, Cllr John Cooke said "Kenilworth Town Council were pleased to work closely with Jamie Ward and his students on this project. The Council was particularly impressed by the thorough, detailed and professional approach on all aspects of design, site survey and choice of materials. The Council was particularly pleased that it was able to source this excellent service locally from Royal Leamington Spa College."

Liz Page, Historic Properties Director (West) at English Heritage said: “We are delighted that such a talented young furniture maker will be making a new Mayors’ Bench to stand in the historic grounds of Kenilworth Castle, a place that has been at the centre of England's affairs for much of its 900 year history. Matt’s beautiful design in English Oak will fit in very well within the historic location, and we are excited to see it in place.”

Jamie Ward, curriculum leader for furniture crafts said, “It’s great for the students to get ‘real world’ experience of working with clients so we were very pleased to be able to collaborate with Kenilworth Town Council on this project. Matt is currently working very hard on bringing the design to life and it’s going to be a fantastic to have his bench showcased at such a historic site as Kenilworth Castle.”

Royal Leamington Spa College offers furniture crafts courses at a range of levels.

For more information, see the Royal Leamington Spa College website or call 0300 456 0049.