Poor boxes

  • What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. (James 1:14–17, NRSV)

By the seventeenth century legislation in England required local guardians to collect a tax and to use the proceeds to provide cash or bread for those unable to provide for themselves. But there was already a long tradition of churches providing for the poor, so many parish churches continued to operate ‘poor boxes’ into which donations could be placed to be used by the clergy and churchwardens to supplement the often meagre statutory provision. 

St Mary Abchurch still has its original poor boxes. 

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