After the Dissolution--the biggest legal transfer of wealth in England's history--the Crown either bestowed or sold the church properties to peers and gentry. By far, most of the estates went to the landed gentry, and thus emerged to prominence, in essence for the first time there, the aristocracy.Share
The gentleman manifested his status in a number of ways, whether by extensive
desecrationrenovation of the appropriated abbeys and convents into great country houses (in one case, the gatehouse was brutally driven through the nave of an old parish church), or by riding about in ornate coaches, or by constructing the family pew (usually in the impropriated parish church of which he was patron). The family pew served not only to preserve a permanent place for the (invariably non-Catholic) squire's family at church, but also to distinguish them from the rest of the populace, and to denote their patronage of the parish.