A pew ( // ) is a long bench seat or enclosed box, used for seating members of a congregation or choir in a church, synagogue or sometimes a courtroom.
The first backless stone benches began to appear in English churches in the thirteenth century, originally placed against the walls of the nave. Over time, they were brought into the centre of the room, first as moveable furniture and later fixed to the floor. Wooden benches replaced the stone ones from the fourteenth century and became common in the fifteenth.
Churches were not commonly furnished with permanent pews before the Protestant Reformation.The rise of the sermon as a central act of Christian worship, especially in Protestantism, made the pew a standard item of church furniture. Hence the use or avoidance of pews could be used as a test of the high or low character of a Protestant church: describing a mid-19th century conflict between Henry Edward Manning and Archdeacon Hare, Lytton Strachey remarks with characteristic irony, "Manning had been removing the high pews from the church in Brighton, and putting in open benches in their place. Everyone knew what that meant; everyone knew that the high pew was one of the bulwarks of Protestantism, and that an open bench had upon it the taint of Rome".
In some churches, pews were installed at the expense of the congregants, and were their personal property; there was no general public seating in the church itself. In these churches, pew deeds recorded title to the pews, and were used to convey them. Pews were originally purchased from the church by their owners under this system, and the purchase price of the pews went to the costs of building the church. When the pews were privately owned, their owners sometimes enclosed them in lockable pew boxes, and the ownership of pews was sometimes controversial, as in the case of B. T. Roberts: a notice that the pews were to be free in perpetuity was sometimes erected as a condition of building grants.
Certain areas of the church were considered to be more desirable than others, as they might offer a better view of services or, indeed, might make a certain family or person more prominent or visible to their neighbours during these services. During the late medieval and early modern period, attendance at church was legally compulsory, so the allocation of a church's pews offered a public visualisation of the social hierarchy within the whole parish. At this time many pews had been handed down through families from one generation to the next. Alternatively, wealthier inhabitants often expected more prestigious seating in reward for contribution to the material upkeep of the church, such as the erection of galleries. Disputes over pew ownership were not uncommon.
Pews are generally made of wood and arranged in rows facing the altar in the nave of a church. Usually a pathway is left between pews in the center to allow for a procession; some have benchlike cushioned seating, and hassocks or footrests, although more traditional, conservative churches usually have neither cushions nor footrests. Many pews have slots behind each pew to hold Bibles, prayer books, hymnals or other church literature. Sometimes the church may also provide stations on certain rows that allow the hearing-impaired to use headsets in order to hear the sermon. In many churches pews are permanently attached to the floor, or to a wooden platform.
In churches with a tradition of public kneeling prayer, pews are often equipped with kneelers in front of the seating bench so members of the congregation can kneel on them instead of the floor. These kneelers essentially have long, usually padded boards which run lengthwise parallel to the seating bench of the pew. These kneeler boards may be 15 cm or so wide and elevated perhaps 10–15 cm above the floor, but dimensions can vary widely. Permanently attached kneelers are often made so they can be rotated or otherwise moved up out of the way when the congregation members are not kneeling.
Due to the prominence in European culture and usefulness, the usage of the pew has spread to many courtrooms in Europe and has additionally spread to Jewish synagogues due to trends of modelling synagogues similar to churches in Western Europe. In most old churches the family names are carved into the end of the pew to show who sat there but in some bigger cases the name of a village was carved into the end and only one person from every village came to mass every week.[ citation needed ]
Until the early/mid twentieth century, it was common practice in Anglican, Catholic, and Presbyterian churches to rent pews in churches to families or individuals as a principal means of raising income. This was especially common in the United States where churches lacked government support through mandatory tithing. This, by nature, enforced a sort of social status in church seating within a parish. Architecturally, pew rents led to a divergence between American and European church furnishing persisting to this day.[ citation needed ] Pews became far more common in American churches because they were a source of income.[ citation needed ]
Pew rental emerged as a source of controversy in the 1840s and 1850s, especially in the Church of England. The legal status of pew rents was, in many cases, very questionable.Further, it exacerbated a problem with a lack of accommodation in churches, that had been noted already in the 1810s, especially in London, and in particular by Richard Yates in his pamphlet The Church in Danger (1815) with his estimate of over 950,000 people who could not worship in a parish church. St Philip's Clerkenwell, a Commissioners' church, was the first London church to break with pew rents.
William James Conybeare commented on the pew system in his "Church Parties" article in the Edinburgh Review of 1853, stating that it was the Anglicans who had adopted the slogan "Equality within the House of God".The early 19th century Commissioners' churches were only required to offer 20% free seating. Attitudes changed from the 1840s, with the High Church party turning against paid pews. By the 1860s and 1870s that view had become quite orthodox, and was supported vocally by Frederic William Farrar.
Many Anglo-Catholic parishes were founded at this time as "free and open churches" characterized by their lack of pew rentals.In mid-century reforms, pews were on occasion removed from English churches in order to discourage rental practices. The Free and Open Church Association was founded in 1866 by Samuel Ralph Townshend Mayer.
A synagogue is a Jewish or rarely Samaritan house of worship. Synagogues have a place for prayer and may also have rooms for study, a social hall, and offices. Some have a separate room for Torah study, called the בית מדרש beth midrash, lit. "house of study".
The altar rail is a low barrier, sometimes ornate and usually made of stone, wood or metal in some combination, delimiting the chancel or the sanctuary and altar in a church, from the nave and other parts that contain the congregation. Often a gate, or just a gap, at the centre divides the line into two parts. Rails are a very common, but not inevitable, feature of Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist churches. They are usually about two feet 6 inches high, with a padded step at the bottom, and designed so that the wider top of the rail can support the forearms or elbows of a kneeling person.
A pulpit is a raised stand for preachers in a Christian church. The origin of the word is the Latin pulpitum. The traditional pulpit is raised well above the surrounding floor for audibility and visibility, accessed by steps, with sides coming to about waist height. From the late medieval period onwards, pulpits have often had a canopy known as the sounding board, tester or abat-voix above and sometimes also behind the speaker, normally in wood. Though sometimes highly decorated, this is not purely decorative, but can have a useful acoustic effect in projecting the preacher's voice to the congregation below. Most pulpits have one or more book-stands for the preacher to rest his or her bible, notes or texts upon.
St. Mary’s Church, Walthamstow, is a Church of England parish church in Walthamstow Village, a conservation area in Walthamstow, East London. It was founded in the 12th century and is still a working church. It retains over one hundred and fifty brasses and monuments, the oldest dating from 1436, though all that now remains of the original Norman church is some pillar bases and the chisel marks on them.
A confessional is a box, cabinet, booth, or stall in which the priest in some Christian churches sits to hear the confessions of penitents. It is the usual venue for the sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Churches, but similar structures are also used in Anglican churches of an Anglo-Catholic orientation. In the Catholic Church, confessions are only to be heard in a confessional or oratory, except for a just reason.
A lectern is a reading desk, with a slanted top, usually placed on a stand or affixed to some other form of support, on which documents or books are placed as support for reading aloud, as in a scripture reading, lecture, or sermon. To facilitate eye contact and improve posture when facing an audience, lecterns may have adjustable height and slant. People generally use lecterns while standing.
St Helen's Bishopsgate is an Anglican church in London. It is located in Great St Helen's, off Bishopsgate.
A choir, also sometimes called quire, is the area of a church or cathedral that provides seating for the clergy and church choir. It is in the western part of the chancel, between the nave and the sanctuary, which houses the altar and Church tabernacle. In larger medieval churches it contained choir-stalls, seating aligned with the side of the church, so at right-angles to the seating for the congregation in the nave. Smaller medieval churches may not have a choir in the architectural sense at all, and they are often lacking in churches built by all denominations after the Protestant Reformation, though the Gothic Revival revived them as a distinct feature.
A bench is a long seat on which multiple people may sit at the same time. Benches are typically made of wood, but may also be made of metal, stone, or synthetic materials. Many benches have arm and back rests; some have no back rest and can be sat on from either side. In American public areas, benches are often donated by persons or associations, which may then be indicated on it, e.g. by a small plaque. Benches are used both outdoors and indoors.
A box pew is a type of church pew that is encased in panelling and was prevalent in England and other Protestant countries from the 16th to early 19th centuries.
A kneeler is a cushion or a piece of furniture used for resting in a kneeling position during Christian prayer.
Anshei Israel Synagogue is a historic synagogue located in Lisbon, Connecticut, United States. The Orthodox congregation was founded with 15 families and constructed the synagogue in 1936. It was built by George Allen & Sons. The interior is a single room that is lined with five benches before the sacred ark. The congregation's membership dwindled throughout the 1940s and 1950s, limiting the services to holidays before finally closing in the early 1980s. Rules in the congregation were not as strictly enforced as in the Old World, as there was no curtain to separate the sexes and distant members were allowed to drive part of the way to its services. The Town of Lisbon took ownership of the property in the 1980s. The synagogue is currently maintained by the Lisbon Historical Society. The synagogue was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
St Aldate's is a Church of England parish church in the centre of Oxford, in the Deanery and Diocese of Oxford. The church is on the street named St Aldate's, opposite Christ Church college and next door to Pembroke College. The church has a large congregation and has a staff team of about 30 which includes clergy, pastoral and administrative staff. The offices of the Rector and other members of staff are at 40 Pembroke Street.
St Baglan's Church, Llanfaglan, is a redundant church in the parish of Llanfaglan, Gwynedd, Wales. It is designated by Cadw as a Grade I listed building, and is under the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches. It stands in an isolated position in a field some 150 metres (164 yd) from a minor road.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church is a parish church of the Archdiocese of Dubuque located in Elkader, Iowa, United States. The church and parish hall were both listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
The Church of St Mary and All Saints is an Anglican church in the village of Whalley, Lancashire, England. It is an active parish church in the Diocese of Blackburn. A church probably existed on the site in Anglo-Saxon times and the current building dates from the 13th century. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building.
St Francis Xavier Church is a heritage-listed Roman Catholic church at 6 Church Street, Goodna, City of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Andrea Giovanni Stombuco and built in 1881 by William Hanley. It was originally known as St Patrick's Church. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.
Shepherd Memorial Church of St Peter is a heritage-listed Anglican church at the corner of Drake Street and Wondai Road, Proston, South Burnett Region, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Fowell, McConnel and Mansfield and built from 1937 to 1939 by Lesleigh George Windmell Smith. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 9 November 2012.
St John the Baptist is a church in White Ladies Aston, Worcestershire, England. It has been designated as a Grade II* listed building by Historic England.
The Church of the Good Shepherd, Kensington, was an Episcopal congregation in Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1868, it merged with Emmanuel Church, Kensington, in 1994 to form the Church of Emmanuel and the Good Shepherd. Its 1887 building, designed by architect T. Frank Miller and located at 2121-2127 East Cumberland Street, was demolished in 2016. The Church of the Good Shepherd, Kensington, was an among the few surviving reminders of the mid to late 19th century English immigrant experience and community in Kensington and Philadelphia. Movement has been made to celebrate the colonial experience and preserve the 19th century "new immigrant" experience in the greater Kensington area. Scholars often refer to this immigrant group as hidden and forgotten. These immigrants, to outsiders, blended in and disappeared. However, as the property demonstrates, mid to late 19th century English immigrants, far from being hidden, built unique neighborhoods, cultural institutions, and worship sites.
By the thirteenth century, backless benches were gradually introduced into English parish buildings. These benches were made of stone and placed against the walls. They were then moved into the body of the building (the area called the nave). At first, the benches were arranged in a semi-circle around the pulpit. Later they were fixed to the floor. on the other hand the modern pew was introduced in the fourteenth century, though it was not commonly found in churches until the fifteenth century. At that time, wooden benches supplanted the stone seats.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pews .|