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Prior to the 1860's, many churches and cathedrals only had chapel chairs and/or pews in the long choir or apse. This was often because churches then were in a run down state. There was no money available, even for necessary repairs and the liturgy did not encourage the participation of the congregation and more people could be packed in for special occasions if they were standing rather than sitting.

During the 17th-19th Century, those parish churches which had church chairs or pews installed were subject to pew rents paid by the occupants for the privilege of sitting in the main aisle. The side aisles and galleries if any were used by members of the congregation who could not afford pew or chapel chair rents or were not of a sufficiently high social standard.

Read More: http://www.churchantiques.com/chapelchairs/

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