It was customary on all British passenger ships for the master to conduct 'divine service' every Sunday. One of the public rooms would be rigged up for this. I can only ever recall one ship having a dedicated chapel and this was a matter for comment. She was built for the Latin American trade.
If the master was unable to officiate because of navigational exigencies the job would be delegated elsewhere, usually to one of the senior pursers.
I inadvertently forfeited a purser's berth with Cunard when I let slip that I was an 'unbeliever'. The interviewer, Roger Wadeson whom some may know, said that taking divine service was part of the purser's remit and faith was de rigeur.
Since that time I've always been "C of E" on the application form, the lesson being - always conform!
Thank you to everyone who has responded. It really is extremely interesting. I really appreciate it. I just wonder now if they would have arranged the chairs differently or not. I remember reading somewhere that the seats were bolted to the floor, and they were unbolted so that they could dance in the lounge. I wonder what they did for church services.
The 2nd Class dining room on the Lusitania was used for Catholic services. The chairs were fixed to the floor, but in such a way that they could be turned so that all faced in the same direction if need be. Later, the Queen Mary was equipped with portable alters which could be used in locations like the lounge and theatre, and in the drawing room, which was used frequently for Catholic services, there was even an alterpiece which could be concealed by sliding screens. The QM also had a small 'scroll room' for Jewish services, which I think was a permanent assignment rather than an occasional usage.
"I remember reading somewhere that the seats were bolted to the floor, and they were unbolted so that they could dance in the lounge. I wonder what they did for church services."
In the public rooms tables were arranged in set positions according to the General Arrangement Plan and were secured to the deck against heavy weather. The accompanying chairs would normally be secured by means of a bottle-screw or turnbuckle device which allowed for limited movement in situ.
This furniture could be unshipped and re-arranged for church services and entertainment functions if sea conditions allowed, even then provided that rows of seats were safely chocked off by the occasional securing at intervals.
Carpets over dance floors were secured against drifting by decorative pan-headed brass bolts placed at strategic intervals.