St Michael and All Angels Church, Middlewich
Poors Box Click to enlarge

Situated to the right of the south door, is the Poors Box, dating back to the reign of King Charles II.

Constructed of solid oak, there are iron straps both outside and in, for added security.  The over-all shape bears a resemblance to that of a small house and the top of the box is hinged.

There is an iron lock, requiring two separate keys, for extra security and control.  The money slot and keyholes are also set in iron plate. The inscription POORS BOX is seen across the front of the box, beneath the 2 locks and on the lid is the date 1682.  The box is attached to a medieval corbel in the shape of a man’s head.

There was clearly a need for the Poors Box, demonstrated by its’ date “1682”.  History leading up to that date points to battles, plagues, movement of large armies, through an area already impoverished.  With the Dissolution of the Monasteries circa 1536, the role played by the Monasteries in supporting small communities with medicine and alms was gone. The closest Abbey to Middlewich was the Abbey of Vale Royal.

In short, the Poors box owes its’ existence to the Social history of much of the 17th Century. In 1608, plague returned to Cheshire, killing up to 20% of the population, disrupting trade and food production seriously harming whole communities.

After the Civil War and as the Salt trade began to recover, and entrepreneurs began to restructure production and distribution, several influential families began to help reform the town, and a focus on care, not condemnation, for the poor developed. Church services were very heavily attended, and the installation of the Poors Box by the exit on the south wall began to help ease the plight of the poor. As the congregation left the services, they would put whatever they could spare, in the Poors Box, to go toward poor relief in the Parish.  There was a similar box by the north door but of a simple design, labelled “free-will offerings”.  The sign is still there but the box is long gone

The Poors Box gifts to the poor took place twice a year – on Easter Day and Michaelmas Sunday in September.  

Listen to the printed text on your deviceTRAILNativityTRAILDecorated PewsVawdrey and SeamanTIMEFontIsaac Wood FurnitureTOPICFurnitureArch and PillarsTRAIL1682#topFontWhitefriars WindowFont