Four pew rent receipts dated between 1861 and 1872.
Pew rents were commonly charged to families or individuals in churches of most faiths until the mid 20th century. It was one of the principal ways of raising church income. The pew rent system often resulted in a kind of social status and hierarchy in church. The pews closest to the altar were usually occupied by the wealthiest of a parish.
These receipts are particularly interesting, as they chronicle a significant change in the appearance of Wesley's Chapel.
The receipts for 1861 and 1862 show a plain brick building, virtually identical to the one John Wesley would have known. However, the 1871 receipt shows new stone dressings on the brickwork, including stone pilasters, quoining, window surrounds and a columned parapet balustrade.
It is likely these additions were made following a significant fire at the Chapel in 1864, when also much of the chapel interior was redone. In the 1860s, 'Italianate' style, in particular in architecture, was admired and fashionable, which explains the choice of the new elements.
Compare also the pew rent receipt dating to 1804/09 in the Online Collection.