A pew is a long bench seat or an enclosed box. It is used for seating members of a church, or sometimes a courtroom. Antique church pews were first introduced in the 13th century with removable stone benches that were placed against the church walls. At some time in the 13th century, the backless stone benches were then moved from the walls to the nave, and then they became fixed to the floor. In the 14th century into the 15th century, wooden benches replaced the stone ones.
Starting in the 1600s through to the mid 1800s, many seating arrangements in antique church pews were by rank. The higher social classes sat in the pews closest to the altar and those of lower social classes sat in the back or stood. At some point, wooden church pews had kneelers because some churches had a tradition of public kneeling while in prayer. These antique church pews were often equipped with kneelers in front of the seating bench.
Antique church pews needed to be restored over the years and some needed refurbishing. Some churches would rent used church pews or second hand church pews, while others would look for antique church pews for sale. Up until the early to mid 20th century many churches, such as the Presbyterian, Anglican, and Catholic would rent pews to families or individuals as a way to raise income for church building.