CHAPTER • (Latin caput, head), one of the chief divisions of a book. As the rules and statutes of ecclesiastical establishments were arranged in chapters, so also the assembly of the members of a religious order, and of canons, was called a chapter, because some or all of the chapters containing the rules were read there; and the place where they assem bled, as well as the reproof administered to a delinquent member, by reading the rules of the chapter transgressed, had the same name. The orders of knights, which originally had much of the ecclesiastical constitution, used this expression for the meetings of their mem bers, and even some corporations of mechanics or tradesmen call their assemblies chapters. In England, as elsewhere, the deans and chapters had the right to choose the bishop, but Henry VIII assumed this right as a prerogative of the Crown.
a building attached to a cathedral, collegiate church or church belonging to a religious house in which the chapter meets for the transaction of business.
Chapter-houses are of different forms, being sometimes regular polygons of 4, 8 or 10 sides, and in other cases circles or parallelograms; and their architecture is often noteworthy. Sometimes they were the burying-places of clerical dignitaries. Among the most notable of English chapter-houses are those at Lincoln Cathedral (which is decagonal, with a central column), Salisbury, Wells, Southwell and York, the two last named excelling all others in Great Britain in the beauty and richness of their carved stonework. There is a chapter house at Bristol, of the Norman period, in shape a parallelogram, much enriched with ar cading and various kinds of Norman orna ment. The chapter-houses at Gloucester and Canterbury are likewise parallelograms, but of the Third Pointed or Perpendicular period.