Meetinghouse Bench

ANATOMY OF A MEETINGHOUSE BENCH

Jacobean Furniture SpindleShaker Peg Board

The meetinghouse bench served as a pew for the Shakers. During services, the faithful would sit and listen to a sermon delivered by an elder. At the close of the meeting, the benches would be moved out of the way and hung from a pegboard (page 138). With the floor cleared, the Shakers' ritual dancing—

Made of cherry with a pine seat, the meetinghouse bench shown at left is modeled after those used by Shaker worshippers. Because people are larger than they were in the Shakers' time, the seat is wider than that of an original bench.

from which they derive their name-— would begin.

Although many Shaker communities had benches of the style shown in this section, the design is believed to have originated in Enfield, New Hampshire. Typically, the crest rail, legs, and spindles were built from maple or cherry and the seat from pine. Many early examples remain intact, as a result of sound construction and careful handling by their makers.

As shown below, the bench's legs are raked to the front and back, but are not splayed sideways. The spindles and crest rail are tapered and the rail is angled at the ends.

ANATOMY OF A MEETINGHOUSE BENCH

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