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How Church Chairs Have Changed Over Years

Aug 12, 2008
Along with churches, church furnishings have undergone changes too. An integral part of church furniture is church chairs. Over time, they too have evolved and now hold an important place among the church furnishings. The style of chairs in the 17th century was of a very simple nature but nowadays you find church chairs with a variety of designs.

The liturgy actually discouraged a lot of people from attending the congregation and their thinking was that more people could be accommodated when everyone was standing rather than sitting. Another reason was that church funds were scarce so a lot of churches were in a state of dilapidation and disrepair. So they were unable to have repairs done and also couldn't afford new furniture.

During the period between the 17th and the 19th century, churches having pews and chairs were charged rent. This rent was to be paid by the occupant of the pew or chair. For those whom this rent was heavy on their pocket, had to make do with standing at the side aisle or gallery. This rent was charged as a tax for those who wanted the privilege of being accommodated on a seat next to the main aisle.

Around the 18th century, a revolution came about where changes started to creep in and the social barriers were also starting to disappear. Now in this era the church encouraged everyone to join in the congregations held in the church. This called for new seating arrangements and a higher number for seats for the increased population attending church. So now most of the chapel or church chairs were similar in shape and sizes. For this reason, the raw material, namely wood which was used to create church chairs and stacking chairs, also had to be the same throughout. As a result the manufacturing of these chairs grew and about 100 workers were roped in to do this job.

Now for making wooden chairs, the most important material is timber. Beech, Elm, Oak and sometimes American ash was the popular timber desired by all the manufacturers and was brought in from various specialized brokers. With the limited technology available then, the timber had to be taken good care off. So when the delivery of the timber was made to the workshop, it was kept in a hot-room so that the moisture content of the timber would be reduced by 10%. After this process, the timber was checked and various defects were removed. Then the remaining timber was cut according to the specifications for the chairs and then it was ready for the finishing touches. This was the manufacturing process for church chairs that was in use a few centuries back.

After the planks or the post hand turning was ready, the church furniture just needed assembling. For this purpose all the parts were transported to the assembly area to have them assembled together by hand pressing or with the help of jigs. The glue, which was used to keep all the parts of the church pews, stack chairs and other church furniture, was urea formaldehyde glue. The reason for this was that this glue was said to create the perfect bond between the joints and it was said to be helpful in increasing the life of the furniture. The strut of these church chairs was angled to provide the required strength to the struts. The legs of these chairs were also braced with glue so that it would counteract the high-pressure, which was created when people leaned back on these chairs. The angle or curve was either cut with a handsaw or at times even by hand. In earlier times chairs were either oiled or waxed whereas in modern times, an acid lacquer polish is used for the finishing of these church chairs. This was the typical structure and creation of church chairs in those times.

In the early times, the laborers who created these church chairs and church pews were nomadic turners who were also known as "bodgers". These bodgers mostly resided in the village situated near High Wycome.

Going according to history, the skilled laborers used for making these church chairs was basically acquired from various manufacturing industries which actually handled the production of items like spoons, bowls etc. these workers found making chairs as a good part-time job as this industry was on a rise. And so a group of skilled workers of wooden articles was formed who provided services for making chairs for the church.

The increasing need for a larger number of church chairs is felt through out. For example, The Basilica in Rome is one of the most popular churches in the world. It has a lot of space and can accommodate unto 90,000 people. But the sad part is that it doesn't have enough chairs to have everyone seated for the congregation. When the Pope presides over the ceremonies in the church, only a maximum of 11,500 people can be accommodated in the seats available. The rest have to stand throughout the ceremony and keep craning their necks to get a feel of what is going on. But the 11,500 chairs have been strategically positioned so that everyone gets a view of the proceedings at the central altar.

It is said that at one point of time in history, the best quality church chairs and pews were produced in England. The records show that in 1939, the number of workers working in this industry under different manufacturers was almost 10,000. But now due to the advance in technology and the available machinery, the number of workers has been greatly reduced and the number has come down to 8000 workers. Now it's a new era in the manufacturing of church chairs and other furniture. And now what was unthinkable in the 20th century has been achieved in the 21st century, namely, the availability of church pews and stacking chairs over the Internet.
About the Author
Seomul Evans is a seo copywriter for a leading Stacking Church Chairs manufacturer specializing in affordable Stacking Church Chairs.
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