What is the first thing that enters your mind, when someone begins to talk about churches? From the high steeples to the cross and altar at the front, or the rows and rows of pews, church architecture and furniture tend to have quite a few unique characteristic. Today, different churches choose to use different furniture. Some prefer hard-backed wooden pews, while others may opt for a cushioned variety.
In general, church pews are considered to be long bench seats. They may have cushioned seating, and hassocks or footrests, or be more simple furniture pieces. At some churches, they may be enclosed box pews, while others have open pews. Yet church furniture has a long and interesting history.
Despite this seemingly abundance of pews today, they were not generally or permanently used before the Protestant Reformation. Around the thirteenth century, church pews first appeared. Church goers would sit in backless stone benches that were moved from the church walls to the interior, and which were likely not very comfortable. The pews were arranged with a path in the middle. This path, or aisle, often allowed the clergy to pass through the congregation, instead of going around.
It is important for churches to respect this long history of church pews. With regular maintenance and repairs, church pews can be kept for long periods of time. Once retired, worn and antique second hand church pews, often continue to be loved and repurposed. They may be used in dining areas of some homes, or as a bench in the entryway.
However, furniture is not the only important characteristic of the church. Architecture is also an important aspect that should be well maintained. From the typical cruciform ground plan of most cathedrals and great churches, to the iconic steeples, the architecture remains to be very meaningful to the congregation. Some churches even have unique steeple design or a cross on the steeple, while others prefer plain and standard steeples.
Church architecture has been greatly influenced by the great churches of Byzantium and wonderfully constructed Gothic cathedrals. Such architecture can include features as intricate as detailed designs in the stone walls or stained glass windows. Or, the architecture may be that of a simple, wooden church. Like church furniture, its architecture can vary widely and be characteristic of that particular church.
A church steeple, and other architectural features, should be regularly repaired and serviced to ensure that no issues arise from it. It should be kept a good quality, particularly if it there is a unique church steeple design that is characteristic of that church. Such designs become recognizable and can be incredibly meaningful to the church’s clergy and congregation. Given the importance of their community, these churches should be well respected and therefore, well maintained.