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primarily that part of the church close to the altar and used by the officiating clergy. In the early churches it was separated from the nave by a low parapet or open railing (cancellus), its name being thus derived. San Clemente at Rome has one of the few preserved examples. With the development of the choir, additional space was taken, between the sanctuarysanctuary,
sacred place, especially the most sacred part of a sacred place. In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, a sanctuary served as asylum, a place of refuge for persons fleeing from violence or from the penalties of the law.
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 and the nave, for the accommodation of the canons and singers. The chancel rail was moved forward, and the entire space became known as the choir, although it is also termed the chancel; there is no strict differentiation in the usage. In the Middle Ages the chancel rail was replaced by lofty choir screens (see roodrood
, crucifix mounted above the entrance to the chancel and flanked by large figures of the Virgin and St. John, an almost invariable feature in the 14th- and 15th-century European church.
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), especially in English cathedrals and in monastic churches.
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The part of a large church that is located beyond the transept, containing the altar and choir.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


The sanctuary of a church, including the choir; reserved for the clergy.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


the part of a church containing the altar, sanctuary, and choir, usually separated from the nave and transepts by a screen
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Some monasteries had been responsible for maintaining their local church, so Henry ruled that whoever purchased the land associated with the monastery would become the "lay rector", making them responsible for the upkeep of the chancel, the space around the church altar.
It is believed that about 5,200 churches are entitled to claim the cost of chancel repairs from the lay rector."
The chancel of a medieval church can constitute about one third of the total church building.
While the costly architecture, chancel decorations, and choir stalls of the fifteenth-century convent of San Zaccaria were commissioned with the assistance of male agents, partially funded with contributions from male civic authorities, enhanced by other private donations (both male and female), and overseen by male supervisors, I will argue that the nuns saw these spaces and their adornment as their special province and even canvas.
The nuns of San Zaccaria were involved in two major episodes of building and decoration in the fifteenth century: 1) the enlargement and enhancment of the chancel of the nuns' church and 2) the reconstruction of the nave and creation of new wooden choir stalls, a project which led to the erection of a new (the present) church of San Zaccaria alongside the nuns' church.
Benedict -- subjects well-suited to this Benedictine convent dedicated to a prophet -- fill the severies and triumphal arch of a ribbed vaulted apse in the chancel of the nuns' church, today known as the chapel of San Tarasio (A on the plan in fig.
The space received its present form in 1595, when the original chancel of the nuns' church (the present chapel of San Tarasio) was blocked off from the rest of the structure and the chapel of Sant' Atanasio was created in the space of the central nave of the nuns' church and the church's right side aisle.
Inside, he built a large chancel screen, reminiscent of the old pre-Reformation rood screens, which he decorated with gothic tracery and crockets.
Not only was Cosin introducing furnishings more suited to Catholicism such as a chancel screen and an altar rail, but the gothic style he employed in constructing them seems to betray a yearning for the not-so-distant past of the pre-Reformation.
The chancel was the inner sanctuary, like the 'upper room' of the nobleman's house.
Cosin clearly wanted his parishioners to think of the chancel as extremely holy, a place apart.
The Chancel family, who bought Val Joanis in 1977, don't do things by half, nor are they afraid to do them differently.