Plan of a large Latin cross church with chancel highlighted
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Strict definition
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Broader definition
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.[1] The part of the chancel housing the altar is known as the presbyteryPart of the chancel in a Christian church housing the altar, or a residence for Roman Catholic priests..[2]

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,[3] perhaps supporting a gallery or loft.[1]

The term chancel is derived from the Latin cancellus, meaning a screen.[3]