Chancel (Sanctuary)

Sedilia Niche Sanctuary Stained glass window Stained glass window


Pages in this section: Baptistry | Belfry | Chancel (Choir) | Chancel (Sanctuary) | Nave | North Aisle | Chancel (Sanctuary) | South AisleSouth Porch | Vestry | West Porch

In church architecture, the chancel is at the east end of a church building, and comprises the choir and sanctuary. The word chancel comes from the Latin cancellus meaning lattice, describing the screen that during some eras of church history divided the chancel from the nave. It is the part of the church, where the service is conducted, as distinct from the nave, where the congregation sits.

The sanctuary is at the east end of the church, separated from the choir by a step and a brass rail supported on carved stone and marble pillars. Sanctuary was also the right to be safe which was recognised by English law from the 4th to the 17th century. At that time a person was safe from arrest in the sanctuary of a church or temple.

The alms dish or collection plate stands to the left of the sanctuary. It is inscribed 'All things come of thee and of thine own have we given'. In the north sanctuary wall there is a decorated Niche

The sanctuary is the most sacred part of the church around its high altar. Find out about the high altar on the page The High Altar and its Reredos. The stonework and tilework can be seen on the page Stonework and Tilework in the Sanctuary.

Two of the Bishop Chairs are housed in the sanctuary. The credence table stands to the right of the high altar. It was gifted to the church in 1967 in memory of Amy Lush and Stephen Forrow. It is used to stand the chalices and pattens on during Parish Communion

There is a beautiful stained glass window above the high altar in the sanctuary with the three panels showing the 'Birth of Jesus', the 'Ascension' and the 'Holy Family and Magi'. On the south side of the sanctuary there is a sedilia (two stone canopied seats) and within this space are two stained glass windows, the 'Last Supper' and the 'Stoning of Stephen' with a bronze plaque beneath. The plaque is inscribed 'To the honour and glory of God, and in loving memory of Emma Bligh Christmas 1881' To see all these windows, more detailed pictures and information about them look at the page The Sanctuary Stained Glass Windows.

Find out more

The Sanctuary Stained Glass Windows
The High Altar and its Reredos
Bishop Chairs
Stonework and Tilework in the Sanctuary
The History of St James's Church Buildings


The niche The lamp The aumbry The collecting plate Bishop's chair