Pews and badges

The pattern of the 18th century pews in St Peter`s is very unusual. It was designed to place the pulpit with the Bible and the preacher as the focus of worship in the new chapel. It was also designed to give the mayor and corporation pride of place in the building that is referred to in their Order Books (minute books) as “our chapel”. There was a square pew for the mayor, crossways pews for the aldermen, and on the other side of the aisle, facing, pews for their wives and daughters. The Town Clerk and the Mace Bearer also had separate single seater pews.

The layout appears to have also reflected a social segregation as the majority of pews in the galleries were bought by men labelling themselves as “gentlemen”. Pews were sold at the time of rebuilding, 1742, as the corporation had failed to raise much more than 15% of the cost. Having bought pews people fixed name plates or badges to them, some even fitted locks! In the mid 18th century the most wealthy millowners, the Pattison family, had a pew in the south gallery and 3 seats in pew in the main aisle, which they marked with their dog`s head badge. The black rabbit badge of the Shakerley`s, Lords of the Manor, is on a pew also in the south gallery