Box pew

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Description:
Box pew is a type of church pew that is encased in panelling and was prevalent in England and other Protestant countries from the 16th to early 19th century.

History in England

Prior to the Reformation, seating was not customary in churches and only accorded to the lord of the manor, civic dignitaries and finally churchwardens. After 1569 stools and seating were installed in Protestant Churches primarily because the congregation were expected to listen to sermons, and various types of seating were introduced including the box pew. There are records of box pews being installed in Ludlow parish church before 1577.Margaret P. Hannay (1990) Philip's Phoenix: Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195057791. Box pews provided privacy and allowed the family to sit together. In the 17th century they could include windows, curtains, tables and even fireplaces, and were treated as personal property that could be willed to legatees. Sometimes the paneling was so high it was difficult to see out, and the privacy was used as a cover for non-devotional activity. William Hogarth satirised the trend in his paintings and sketches. By the eighteenth century it became normal to install formal box pews instead of random personal constructions. This provided a more classic line to the church, although Sir Christopher Wren objected to pews in his churches. With the mid 19th century church reforms, box pews were generally swept away and replaced...
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