ETYM Old Fren. chancel, French chanceau, cancel, from Latin cancelli lattices, crossbars. (The chancel was formerly inclosed with lattices or crossbars) See Cancel.
Area around the altar of a church for the clergy and choir; often enclosed by a lattice or railing; SYN. sanctuary, bema.
Part of church containing altar and seats for choir.
Part of a Christian church where the choir and clergy sit, formerly kept separate from the nave.
The term originated in the early Middle Ages, when chancels were raised above the level of the nave, from which they were separated by a rood screen, a pierced partition bearing the image of the Crucifixion. The chancel has usually been considered the preserve and responsibility of the clergy, while the upkeep and repair of the nave was left to the parishioners.