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Antique Church Pews

UKAA buy and sell Church pews

UKAA have a large selection Of Church pews for sale. UKAA buy Church pews direct from Churches across the country that are either refurbishing or being made redundant. Church pews make excellent seating for kitchen and dining tables. They also work well within a combination of Church Chairs. A Church pew in a hallway always looks very nice.

Antique Victorian pine pews for sale at ukaa 
The Church pews that we currently have in stock are pine, pitch pine and oak. Reclaimed Church pews are available in varying lengths. We have large selection of salvaged Church pews that are ideal for the restaurant trade. A Church Pew is an excellent piece of furniture in any room of the home. 

Each pew is processed in our workshops; we treat them all for woodworm, make any necessary repairs, and finally offer them for sale.

Antique Original Church pews fully refurbished ready for use

Click Here To View Our Church Pews That We Have For Sale

The History of Church pews

Pew - wooden seats or benches in the Church. Pews only appeared at the end of the medieval period. Often pews had carved bench-ends and were carved with animal or foliage designs.

From the 1600s through the mid 1800s, Churchgoers of most denominations were seated in their houses of worship according to social rank, whether by assignment or purchase. This expressed a nearly universal Christian perception of social rank as part of a divinely ordered hierarchy of creation. The highest ranking pews were close to the pulpit, the lowest furthest from the pulpit. Private pews gave rise to the practice of numbering pews for easy record keeping.

Some pews were set aside as general seating for special groups. Such as adolescents, the poor, widows, the hard-of-hearing, and black people. In the USA there would also be pews specifically for the use of black people (free or enslaved) and Native Americans. Often the Negro Pews would be in upper galleries, as far as possible from the pulpit. White people would be appointed to oversee or monitor them. Slave owners purchased pew space for their slaves in their Churches, just as they did for themselves. From the 1840s to the 1930s churches gradually shifted from private pews to free and open seating, giving rise to the term "free Church". Old pew numbers and labels are still found on pews today.

This transition occurred in a society that was increasingly democratic in its outlook toward white people, but remained racially segregated. The adoption of free seating must have placed black Americans in an ambivalent social position; especially where old "Negro" labels remained in place. Most of the liturgical fittings in an average Church, such as the pulpit and pews, were installed in the 19th century. Only fonts are likely to be older. During the Reformation Churches were stripped of all of their images, all the stained glass and brightly coloured pictures of saints and religious figures would have been destroyed.

The congregation almost never had pews or Chapel chairs until the Reformation. In the great Cathedrals, the only place to sit was along the low stone shelf that ran along the side walls of the building, where sat those who were too weak or ill to stand; hence the saying, "The weak go to the wall." After the Civil War, religious life calmed down. Most Churches received new fittings, such as pulpits and box pews. Old fittings were often swept away during late 19th Century restorations. 19th-century restorers believed that they were putting the Church back to what it had been in the middle ages, but in the process they often threw away a great deal of history. Guide books often refer to 19th-century restorations as 'modern', but as we move into the 21st century, they too are becoming part of history. By the early 19th century, the old parish system was on the verge of collapse. Its boundaries had been set in the 12th century, and the landscape of England had changed enormously since then. Growing cities like Birmingham, Liverpool, London and Manchester were particularly badly served, especially around their formerly rural fringes. Even if there was a Church nearby, there was no guarantee that you could get a pew to sit on. In most Churches, the pews were rented out to individual families - often a pew belonged to a house. This placed a great pressure on space, as no one else could sit there. Galleries along the sides and back of the nave for free seating were built to try and cope with this problem, but even this often was insufficient to meet the expanding congregation. This was one reason why there was a programme of Church building in the 19th century on a scale not seen in England since the 12th century.

Only an Act of Parliament could create new parishes, as the parish was regarded as a unit of civil, as well as ecclesiastical, jurisdiction and therefore under secular control. New Chapels could be built within existing parishes, but as the funds often came from selling pews in advance, these 'proprietary' Churches did not alleviate a shortage of seats. The situation was not necessarily any better in rural areas. In the north-west, for instance, old parishes were often huge and inadequately staffed.

In addition to the Jerusalem Temple, Christians at first worshiped in private homes. When persecution drove them out of the Temple, homes were the only places where they could gather.

Such archaeological evidence as we have suggests that there were only two items of furniture provided: a chapel chair for the presiding elder (sitting was the posture of authority - Jesus sat to teach (Matthew 5:1) as did all rabbis), and a table for the Lord's Supper. They usually met in a dining room, the only large room in the house, frequently occupying the entire top floor. This "upper room" was normally furnished with a table and three surrounding pews; but as the Christian community expanded and the liturgy developed, the assembly rooms became larger. By the 3rd century, they were furnished with a special table, or Mensa, for the Lord's Supper. The officiating elder sat near this table on a chapel chair, or "cathedra" ... which eventually gave its name to the cathedral, which, in contrast to a parish church, is one over which a bishop presides. There was no other seating - the congregation stood throughout! The house Church was superseded by the "Church House". Since public buildings were not an option - they'd be pulled down in the next persecution, almost as soon as they were put up - Christians with the means to do so built private homes with a view to their use for worship. Their plan was basically the same. Sometimes a central open court was the meeting place, sometimes the "upper room".

The pews: Some minimal seating existed from the early Church - the first liturgies were conducted in house churches and seating for those who might need to sit, the elderly or infirm, for example, was in place.

The bishop got a seat as time went on, but the rest of people, including the ministers, generally stood. After Constantine allowed Christianity as the official religion of the empire, seating was provided for those of high status - particularly political status. Monastic life contributed to the encroachment of the pews since monks and some other clerics sat in "choir," - a choir pew area between the people in the assembly and the altar. They would against opposite walls, facing each other, a style still seen in monastic settings. From here, pew seating basically simply evolved - after the Carolingian period a kind of haphazard or even "bring-your-own" seating emerged for laity, a chair here, a bench there, a mat on the floor. This increased during the 14th and 15th centuries and by the 16th century pews were common. This development, as mentioned above, further separated the people from the priest and the liturgy - dividing the church up and keeping the laity at bay. The Reformation contributed greatly to the pew design - the Reformers placed the emphasis on hearing, not seeing, and they rejected the lush visual elements of worship. So to emphasize hearing the Word of God, the people sat. They also began to read in worship - the printing press and growing literacy encouraged that. Roman Catholic Churches also embraced seating at this time, but the invasion of the pews was a particularly northern European and New World affair. The wealthy began to buy their own pews as well.

One other element - a renewed interest in gender separation also contributed to the pew seating arrangement in some places. One can still see examples of pew-less medieval churches in Europe - the gothic Cathedrals in Dublin, Ireland, for example. Chapel chairs have been brought in, but not pews. The open space is beautiful. Orthodox churches also often have pew less sanctuaries. No pews, no chairs. Everyone stands - for very long liturgies. A handful of chapel chairs, only for those who absolutely needed to sit, are provided. When some American Churches were completed in the past and the floor had been laid, areas for the closed pews were laid out, marked with chalk, and given a number. These areas, much like house lots, were then auctioned off to the highest bidders who were given deeds certifying their possession of each respective area. They then constructed their pews according to their own desires and tastes. Therefore, there was little consistency in the design of the pews as we see them today. Perhaps much "keeping up with the Jones's" went on unless the incumbent laid down the law.

Click Here To View Our Church Pews That We Have For Sale

Original Antique Traditional Refurbished Pews Ready Use In A Restaurant

UKAA | UK Architectural Antiques

Hill Farm, 82 Hayfield Hill
Cannock Wood,
WS15 4RU

 01543 222 923

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