Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Chancel (Low Latin cancelli, lattice-work), the upper, usually the east end of the church, generally containing the altar or Lord's Table, and often somewhat higher than the rest of the building. In some old churches, however, it is slightly lower. It is usually allotted specially to the clergy and choir, and was held in early times to he specially sacred (as it now is by Roman Catholic and Anglican High Churchmen), and therefore was railed off, whence the name. During the Reformation there was much controversy as to whether service was to be said there or elsewhere in the church. The former practice gave great offence to many of the Reformers. A reading-desk was therefore often erected outside the chancel, and in some cases the Lord's Table was transferred to the body of the church. This latter usage, however, caused so much irreverence that Archbishop Laud ordered that the table should stand at the east end of the chancel, and be railed in - a practice which has been universal in England since the Restoration. The chancel is legally the rector's freehold, and he is bound to keep it in repair.