Why Is A Church Bench Called A Pew

Why is a church bench called a pew: Have you ever wondered why a pew is a bench used in churches? Or why is it that the pews in the front rows are arranged differently from the others and are known as the “family rows”? Although I’ve been interested in this for a long time, I didn’t finally do an online search and discover any solutions until recently. Have you ever wondered why church pews are called that? The Old French word “pué,” which means “a seat,” is where the word “pew” first appeared. During the fourteenth century, the word was frequently used to describe a stand, stall, seat, or compartment for a single person or small group. The pew evolved to become a standard component of seating in English parish churches.

You can also find topics like “facts about church pews” along with extensive write-ups that include topics like “different types of church pews”

facts about church pews

different types of church pews

The phrase “pews” was used for any group of people coming together for a shared goal, albeit churches were where it was most frequently used. The front and center pews in the past were frequently reserved for the wealthy and powerful, while the back or upper side seats were reserved for individuals of lower status. We still need benches that are comfortable to sit on in today’s world, in my opinion, because not everyone has the same tastes. While some of us prefer to utilize benches that are comfy, others prefer something hard or with armrests.

The word ‘pew’ is an Anglicized version of the same old French verb ‘puire’ meaning to pierce or to punch. The pews we sit on in church are made for us to feel at home and comfortable. Pew is also a combination of the words ‘Angel’ and ‘Episcopal’.

A church bench is called a pew because it is usually made out of oak, which was originally called “pew.” The word “pew” comes from the Latin word for “oak,” and was used to describe the wood because it was commonly used in churches to build pews.

The word “pew” comes from the Old English word “pewe,” which means a box or enclosed seat. The term was originally used to describe both church benches and the seats in theaters, where people would sit in boxes separated by iron bars.

Today, the term “pew” is typically only used to refer to church benches, which are also called “benches” or “seats.”

Churchgists will provide you with all the relevant information you are looking for on facts about church pews, what is a pew, different types of church pews, and so much more.

Why is a church bench called a pew


From its humble beginnings as a simple bench to its use by the landed gentry to identify hereditary rights, the pew has been an important symbol of wealth and power for many centuries. But what is a pew? Is it a type of bench? A wood chopping tool? Or are you completely in the dark about what exactly makes something a “pew”? Have no fear! We have answers. And if you’re wondering why your church has such strange-looking benches, well, there’s a history lesson in that too.

The original pews were installed in medieval churches for rich families to “claim” like seats at a Broadway show, and the word pew comes from the French puy, meaning footstool.

The original pews were installed in medieval churches for rich families to “claim” like seats at a Broadway show, and the word pew comes from the French puy, meaning footstool.

The church bench was adopted by Puritan congregations in England during the 16th century, when an individual could be excommunicated if he or she did not attend Sunday services regularly—a serious punishment since it meant no access to heaven. To encourage regular attendance, some churches offered free seating on these benches after they had been paid for by wealthy patrons (this practice is known as “titheing”). The lower classes would have stood throughout service or sat on rush mats spread across the floor; only those who contributed financially could afford a place to sit down.

Pews in medieval Europe were typically arranged along the nave of the church.

Pews were normally situated down the length of the church’s nave in medieval Europe. The Latin word navis, which means “ship” or “boat,” is the root of the English term “nave,” which is a fitting description of this portion of a church because it resembles a ship’s hull. Or, to put it another way, pews were frequently arranged in rows on either side of an open area in the middle (the ship’s keel), which served as a passageway between two areas: one where people entered and exited through doors at either end (the bow), and another where clergy would deliver sermons during services (the stern). This configuration was common for a large portion of Western European history up until around 1500, when wooden benches started to take the place of stone seats as sitting for worshippers because of their reduced cost.

The rich wanted to get up close to God, but they didn’t want to sit thigh-to-thigh with the peasants.

It’s also important to remember that in the Middle Ages, peasants were not allowed inside of churches. They had to stand outside and listen through an open window. The poor weren’t even allowed inside of a church at all; they were forced to wait outside with the livestock. This meant that pews were originally designed as comfortable places for wealthy people who wanted somewhere nice to sit while they listened to sermons—and no one else was around them!

Each wealthy parishioner had his own side chapel built off of the church’s main nave.

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These side chapels housed family pews, usually made of stone or wood and decorated with paintings.

As churches became more elaborate and ornate, they often had side chapels that housed family pews, usually made of stone or wood and decorated with paintings. These family pews were built for the rich families who could afford to have them installed in their own private area of the church.

In 16th-century England, some parishioners paid their vicar between five and ten shillings per year for a deed of tithes stating that they were entitled to a certain seat in the church until death or bankruptcy threw them out.

In 16th-century England, some parishioners paid their vicar between five and ten shillings per year for a deed of tithes stating that they were entitled to a certain seat in the church until death or bankruptcy threw them out. The pew was a symbol of wealth and power, but it also allowed an individual to display his or her piety by sitting separately from others who didn’t pay as much money.

The term “pew rent” still refers to this custom today.

The French word puy, which means footstool, is where the term “pew” originates. In English, it was first used in 1602. Pews were initially reserved for wealthy parishioners in medieval Europe, who frequently had their own side chapels constructed off of the main nave or apse area. They were normally positioned along the nave of a church (these are called ambulatory).

facts about church pews

When it comes to our Sunday Mass obligation, there are few things that capture our attention more than the Eucharist. Sure, there’s liturgical music too look forward to, incense to be whiffed and the customary “post-Summit-and-Source-of-Christian-Life” doughnuts to be had.

But let’s be honest, there’s one thing that demands the attention of our senses slightly less than the Body and Blood of Christ: Church pews.

Why? Well, because when it comes to being in God’s presence, we Catholics like to make everything awesome and meaningful, even our pews. Here’s a breakdown of how we came to pop a celestial squat:

1. Whose House?

Prior to the construction of Church buildings, the Church militant would meet at people’s houses to celebrate “the breaking of the bread” (Acts 2:46). During the time Christ, it was commonplace for houses to have long bed-like cushions in which people would recline to eat their meals.

via baroquepotion.com

It is likely then that when the Eucharist was celebrated, the congregants would either stand or recline as was custom of the time. They more than likely stood in order to honor the True Presence and to inaudibly symbolize the Resurrection.

2. Standing Room Only

Once Church buildings began to be erected, Christians used to have to stand throughout the service. The only other acceptable stance was kneeling, and that was typically used for penitential acts. Jason Evert explains,

“The First Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) included a canon proscribing kneeling on Sundays and during Pentecost, suggesting that kneeling was common in the early Church at other times (e.g., on weekdays)… The early Church saw kneeling in public as essentially a penitential act, since the penitents knelt during the parts of the liturgy that they were allowed to attend. Kneeling now has more of a reverential than penitential connotation attached to it.”

So if you were an early Church Christian, you either stood or knelt. Sitting wasn’t an option. In fact, some Orthodox communities are still pewless to this day.

Monastery of St. Simon the Zealot, Georgia via ryanphunter.wordpress.com

3. That’s MY Seat You’re Sitting In

It wasn’t until the sermon came to be the central act of worship (thanks to the protestant revolution), that pews began to appear. Since the Churches at the time could not afford them, individual parishioners would pick up the tab. In fact, they would claim them as personal property and place “pew boxes” over them so no one else could use them.

via Britainexpress.com

On top of that, they’d put their names on them just in case there was any confusion.

4. Can’t Afford a Pew? We Got You

While “Pew Rents” were commonplace until the mid-19th century, even here in the U.S, those who couldn’t afford a sit would be given a spot in the cheap seats. CatholicCulture.org reports:

“Charges that were formerly made in some dioceses for the use of certain seats in church. In the United States the practice had been approved by the Third Council of Baltimore and endorsed by the Holy See as a source of revenue for church maintenance and the support of the clergy. Renting a pew or section entitled a person to use a given place at all or any of the divine services in that church. In some dioceses a person could receive pastoral administrations even though registered in another parish. Those unable to pay pew rent were at liberty to use the numerous unassigned seats in the Church.”

5. It is All About Comfort, Right? Wrong

Today, Church pews abound. Some are posh:

via shard3.1stdibs.us.com

Others are penitential, filled with slivers to help unite your experience more closely to the Christ’s passion and death:

And some are just so plain beautiful you hesitate to place your gluteus maximus upon them:

via britainexpress.com
6. So, the next time you “can’t even” during the Our Father and the only thing you want to do is take a quick breather in the pew, remember, for the vast majority of the past 20 centuries, we either didn’t have them or you would have had to pay for one

Pew was an important symbol of wealth and power for many centuries.

Many people today are not familiar with the term pew, but it is still a very important part of church architecture. A pew was originally a bench or seat reserved for members of the church who could afford to pay for them. Over time, the word came to mean any bench used in a church by those attending services there.

Pews were often made of wood and were expensive to build because they had no backs and were designed especially for each family or individual who paid for one. The rich would often choose ornate designs or carve their own seats rather than just buying an ordinary bench from an artisan shopkeeper. Some churches even had special boxes where only important people could sit; if you weren’t wealthy enough to have your own seats built into your box then you might end up sitting on top of other pews instead!


The word pew isn’t quite as old as the thing it describes, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. Sometimes words just sound old, and I hope we’ve given you some good insights into how this one came about.

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