The Advent of the Pew and the Steeple

Church steeples

The church steeples of today are reminiscent of old English cathedrals. In fact the early church architects in Medieval England began designing grand cathedrals with soaring intricate steeples that directed the parishioners eyes toward the heavens.

The church steeples and church furniture, like church pews, have evolved very little over the years. There have been some advancements in materials and craftsmanship of churchpews and church steeples, but we still have the same basic elements. In fact, antique church pews for sale will look very similar to newer pews.

The Protestant sermon gave rise to the church pew. As the congregation embraced the sermon as their central gathering, it became a standard in churches. In approximately the 13th century, removable stone benches were used along the church walls for seating. Since then, they have not changed all that much. Now the wooden church pews have really only seen the addition of cushioning.

Churches were far and few between during the first 3 centuries of the early Christian Church. It was still illegal to practice Christianity and having dedicated churches would have attracted far too much attention. Once the times changed, the design of the physical church become pronounced and regal. Those initial designs carried over into the predominantly wooden steeples and facades of colonial times.

Historically, like the church pew, the church steeple was essentially a wooden fixture. Most church steeples were whitewashed to protect them from the elements. In certain regions and climates, it was clear that the wooden church steeples needed more protection. You can find copper and slate shingles on church steeples these days.

Copper was a perfect covering for steeples due to its durability and longevity. In some areas the copper covered church steeple would last for 70 to 100 years. When factored in with building costs, it made sense to use copper on church steeples.

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