Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches

History and Architecture

Poor Box

Quite literally, a box to receive donations to aid the poor. These might also be called alms boxes, and were generally wooden boxes affixed to a pillar or free-standing atop a wooden or stone pedestal. They were frequently located near the main church door. Most surviving poor boxes date from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, and many have iron strap binding for extra security, and a slot in the box top for coins. Some were later adapted to be simply donation boxes for church expenses.

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This profligate poet and preacher rose to become dean of St Paul's Cathedral



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