Plan of a large Latin cross church with chancel highlighted
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Strict definition
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Broader definition
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The chancel is the part of a Christian church used by the clergy and others officiating at a service. Usually situated at the eastern end of the church, it houses the altar and perhaps the choir. In smaller churches the chancel may be separated from the naveCentral part of a church, used by the laiety., the part of the building used by the congregation, by a chancel arch, altar rails, or a series of steps. In larger churches and cathedrals, particularly those with a monastic past, the demarcation between nave and chancel may be a stone screen with a central door, known as a pulpitum,[1] perhaps supporting a gallery or loft.[2]

The term chancel is derived from the Latin cancellus, meaning a screen.[1]

References



Bibliography


Curl, James Stevens, and Susan Wilson. “Pulpitum.” Oxford Dictionary of Architecture, Online, Oxford University Press, https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780191918742.001.0001/acref-9780191918742.
Jones, Tom Devonshire, et al., editors. “Chancel.” Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art and Architecture, Online, Oxford University Press, https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199680276.001.0001/acref-9780199680276-e-338.