Interesting article on the history of the chair. Apparently, they are not so historically universal as we would think. As many a pastor has tried to point out, pews are a recent innovation in the church. As Aidan Kavanagh wrote, “Pews are never mentioned in Roman rubrics, nor is there any record that being without pews has ever killed Christians in significant numbers.”
One thing missing from his article is that the name “cathedral” means chair. The Cathedra was the seat of the bishop. That is, there is a chair in the front reserved for the bishop. The Cathedral was the building housing the Cathedra. My first parish (English District) had two chairs in the front, one on each side of the altar. I assume that one was for the pastor, and the other reserved for the bishop (The English District word for “District President”), should he attend. I was never able to determine which chair (left or right) was to be reserved for him.
My current parish has movable seating in the front. There are also two chairs, but the second is for the acolyte, when we have one. No reserved chair for the bishop. But then, no bishop, either.