Believe it or not, church pews weren’t always a staple part of church houses. Originally, the church gathered in the home. It wasn’t until post-300 AD that an actual church building was constructed with the Roman Basilica as the model, and even then, these buildings didn’t include seating. Instead, patrons stood and walked freely as they interacted with one another.
The 13th century brought backless stone benches that were situated against the walls in a semi-circular formation, and over time, were affixed to the floor of the church house. The 14th century saw the introduction of church pews as we know them today, though they were not common until the 15th century. This, in part, came about due to the Reformation and the use of the pulpit as the meeting house focal point, influencing the use of pews for the congregation to face and focus on the pulpit and the sermon taking place. Because the Bible was not readily available for the general public to have in their homes as it is in modern times, this allowed the public to receive the word of God as written and have it explained to them, as understanding and schooling was unequal.
Sometimes, church attendees paid for the installation of church pews, and they became their personal property. In meeting houses where this took place, pew deeds recorded title to these pews. These pews were bought from the church, and the money was put towards the construction fees of the church building. In some instances, pew owners locked their pews by enclosing them in pew boxes.
Location of the pews was sometimes determined by factors including making the occupants more visible to the congregation, or the best places to view and hear the sermon. The social hierarchy was often visually apparent in the church pews during the late medieval and early modern period, as going to church was required by law. During this time, it was common for the same family to occupy a pew for generations. Those in the congregation with means gave of their wealth to the church with the expectation of more grand seating than others had.
Church pews are commonly constructed of wood and come in a variety of cushioning options, including cushioned seats, backs, or both, and kneelers for prayers during services. Often, pews will have a slot on the back to hold hymnals, scripture, or prayer books. Some churches equip specific pews for the hard of hearing, featuring headsets. It is not uncommon for pews to be permanently affixed to the floor.
Born Again Pews understands the importance seating can have on your worship service and offers a wide variety of styles and features to fit the specific needs of your congregation. Thankfully, the church is past pew-ownership and those at Born Again Pews are only concerned with helping all members of every congregation experience the word of God for a better life. For durable, hand-crafted church furniture of all kinds, or for a free quote, give us a call today!