Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Story of Pews


A pew is something to sit upon, in a church mostly.  It is my understanding that for the first millenium of Christian evolution, most churches did not include pews.  People stood or sat on the floor.  It wasn't until the 12th century that stone benches began to appear, and only later that these were affixed to the floor.  By the 14th century and into the 15th, wooden benches were substituted for stone ones.

But it was the Reformation and the growing emphasis on sermons, those long, dull pastoral expositions, that led to a real need for congregants to have a place to sit.  You didn't want people passing out onto stone or tile floors which was always a danger when a clergyman had a captive audience and no good reason to stop blathering.

Later, in some areas congregants had to buy their own pews.  And in other places pews were available to rent. The point was to allow people to sit down before they fell down.

I've been in European Cathedrals which still have no permanent pews, but chairs which can be arranged for a variety of purposes.

The other day I read about "born again" pews.  I'm not sure how they are any different from non-born again pews.  Maybe they have little electric buzzers to give you a jolt if you start to drift off.

The pew in the picture above reminds me of pews I've seen in older Protestant churches in the U.S.  It's quite plain, simple, utilitarian.  The little carving on the ends indicates it's for religious use and not for a theater or some such.  But I didn't find it in a church.  I mean, really, what church would have a faux palm plant at the end of a pew?  No, I found this in a fancy thrift store.  I sat on it so I know it works, but I didn't buy it.  What would I do with a pew?

I haven't been inside of a religious structure for some time, so I'm not sure if churches are still using pews or not.  Perhaps they're installing theater seats which are cushioned and have little crevasses in the arms to put drinks.  It would sure make it easier to get through a service if that were the case.  Heck, if I were a church-goer, I might even buy one!


16 comments:

hamilton said...

I do like the look of these pews, but, oh boy, are they uncomfortable to sit on for an hour or two!

Sylvia K said...

I'm not sure what they're like any more -- I've been absent for some time. Hope you've had a great day!!

Oman said...

I agree with Hamilton, I cud use a throw pillow if I will spend hours sitting there :)

Kate said...

The way it is displayed makes it look like it is in a house of worship.

William Kendall said...

Some churches have them, others have moved over to chairs.

Randy said...

I had no idea. Thanks for the info.

Halcyon said...

I have never been inside one, but I wouldn't be surprised if those mega-churches had theater style seats.

Interesting post today. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We all have a lot to be thankful for this year. :)

Kay said...

Yep. This one looks, well, about as comfortable as a pew. So as a piece of furniture I wouldn't be given over to wanting to take something like this home. And viewing it here doesn't inspire a desire to go park myself on one elsewhere, either.

Kay said...

Yep. This one looks, well, about as comfortable as a pew. So as a piece of furniture I wouldn't be given over to wanting to take something like this home. And viewing it here doesn't inspire a desire to go park myself on one elsewhere, either.

llandudnopictures said...

Weddings and funerals only for me I'm afraid.

Birdman said...

I've spent many an hour in pews. These days the closest I'm coming to 'pews' is when I run over or by skunks in the road.
Pews!
Dead skunk in the middle of the road!

Judy said...

That might be good furniture for the house if you didn't want visitors to stay long.
Interesting history about pews to go with the picture. I had no idea.

VP said...

I like your story: it is funny and so real. I am not an expert of pews, but he one you showed us seems just fine. Not sure your suggested improvement will be implemented soon, but who knows? Church attendance is low and anything may help...

RedPat said...

You need to bring along one of those cushions that they sell for sports events!

EG CameraGirl said...

You didn't tell us if this was one of those pews that can give you an electric jolt if you doze off!

LOLfromPasa said...

I really enjoyed this! Next time I sit in a pew here in England, I'll remember this posting.

"Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again." — Henri Cartier-Bresson