Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Family Pew

Christine has an enlightening post about the often ostentatious family pews in the parish churches of post-Reformation England, saying:
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.

The gentleman manifested his status in a number of ways, whether by extensive desecration renovation 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.


Julygirl said...

The current church I attend, (R.C.),cost 8 million to construct and an enormous amount to maintain yearly. It employs about 100 people. This seems somewhat problamatic to me in terms of true Christian worship. Some of the little fundamental church communities with their tiny meeting places apppear to be more in keeping with the early Church. I hope this does not sound too heretical.

elena maria vidal said...

I love ornate churches. Even the catacombs show that beautiful religious art was part of early Christian worship.