CHAPEL (inFrench, Chapelle; inLatin, capella), a word common to many of the languages of modern Europe, and used to designate an edifice of the lower rank ap propriated to religious worship.
In England it has been used to desig nate minor religious edifices founded under very different circumstances and for different objects.
1. We have a great number of rural ecclesiastical edifices, especially in the north of England, where the parishes are large, which are not, properly speaking, churches, ecclesice, though they are some times so called, but are chapels, and not unfrequently called parochial chapels. Most of them are of ancient foundation, but still not so ancient as the time when the parochial distribution of England was regarded as complete, and the right to tithe and offerings was determined to be long to the rector of some particular church. In the large parishes a family of rank which resided at an inconvenient distance from the parish church would often desire to have an edifice near tc them, for the convenience of themselves and their tenants. On reasonable cause being shown, the bishop would often yield to applications of this kind ; but in such cases lie would not suffer the rights of the parish church to be infringed ; no tithe was to be subtracted from it and given to the newly erected foundation, nor was that foundation to be accounted in rank equal to the older church, or its incumbent otherwise than subordinate minister to the incumbent of the parish church. But the bishop generally, perhaps always, stipulated that there should be an endowment by the founder of such an edifice. Frequently in edifices of this class there was the double purpose of obtaining a place of easier resort for religious worship and ordinances, and a place in which perpe tual prayers might be offered for the family of the founder. [Ctiasany.] Others of these rural chapels were founded by the parishioners. The popu lation of a village, which lay remote from the cnarch of the parish within whose limits it was included, would increase, and thus the public inconvenience of having to resort to the parish church on occasion of christenings, churchings, marriages. and funerals, besides the services on the festivals, become great ; they would therefore apply to the bishop in petitions, many of which are in the registers of the sees, setting forth the distance at which they lived, the impediments, constant or occasional, in the way of their ready resort to their parish church, as want of good roads, snow, the rising of waters, and the like, on which the ordinary would grant them the leave which they desired, reserving, however, as seems al most always to have been the case, what ever rights and emoluments had before time belonged to the parish church. In the parish of Halifax there are twelve of these chapels, all founded before the Re formation. In the parish of Manchester, and in most of the parishes of Lancashire, such subsidiary foundations are numerous. Those foundations of this class which could be brought within the description of superstitious foundations were dissolved by the act of 1 Edward VI. for the sup
pression of chantries ; but while the en dowment was seized, it not unfrequently happened that the building itself, out of the piety of the person into whose hands it passed in the sale of the chantry lands, or the devotion of the persons living near it, and long accustomed to resort to it, continued to be used for religious worship in its reformed state, and remains to this day a place of Christian worship, the in cumbent being supported by the casual endowments of the period since the Re formation, and especially by what is called Queen Anne's Bounty, in which most of the incumbents of chapels of this class have participated.
2. The term chapel is used to desig nate those more private places for the celebration of religious ordinances in the castles or dwelling-houses of persons of rank. These chapels, says Burn, were anciently all consecrated by the bishop. We find in some of the oldest specimens of the castles of England some small apartment which has evidently been used for the purposes of devotion, and this sometimes in the keep, the place of last resort in the time of a siege. An instance of this is at Conisbrough, near Doncaster. But more frequently chapels of this kind were erected near to the apartments ap propriated to the residence of the family. Most of the baronial residences, it is pro bable, had chapels of this kind. How splendid they sometimes were we may see in St. George's Chapel at Windsor and St. Stephen's Chapel at Westminster, both chapels of this class attached to the residences of our kings.
3. The chapels of colleges, as in the two universities ; of hospitals, or other similar foundations.
4. Chapels for private services, chiefly services for the dead, in the greater churches, as the chapel of Saint Erasmus, and others, in the church of Westminster. Additions made to the parish churches for the support of chantries are sometimes called chantry chapels.
5. Places of worship of modern foun dation, especially those in towns, are called chapels of ease, being erected for the ease and convenience of the inhabi tants when they have become too nume rous for the limits of their parish church. Most of these are founded under special Acts of Parliament, in which the rights and duties of the incumbent and the foun ders are defined. Under the Church Building Acts the commissioners may as sign districts to chapels under care of curates. By 3 Geo. IV. c. 72, they may convert district chapelries into separate parishes. LBENEFICE, p. 343.1 6. The word chapel is pretty generally used to denote the places of worship erected by various sects of Dissenters under the Act of Toleration, though the Quakers and some of the more rigid Dis senters of other denominations, out of dislike to the nomenclature of an ecclesi astical system which they do not approve, prefer to call such edifices by the name of meeting-houses. The name chapel is now also generally given, by Protestants at least, to the Roman Catholic places of worship.