from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. The space around the altar of a church for the clergy and sometimes the choir, often enclosed by a lattice or railing.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The space around the altar in a church, often enclosed, for use by the clergy and the choir. In medieval cathedrals the chancel was usually enclosed or blocked off from the nave by an altar screen.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. That part of a church, reserved for the use of the clergy, where the altar, or communion table, is placed.
- n. All that part of a cruciform church which is beyond the line of the transept farthest from the main front.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Eccles., the inclosed space in a church surrounding the altar, and railed off from the choir; the sanctuary.
- n. An inclosed space railed off in courts of judicature.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. area around the altar of a church for the clergy and choir; often enclosed by a lattice or railing
These walls were called cancelli, hence the English word "chancel".
If you remember, each corner of the chancel, is supported by a large brick buttress.
In a later time the name chancel came to be applied to the presbyterium itself.
The chancel is short, there are no quire aisles, and the transept apses were rounded externally.
There are two tombs in the body of the place; but none in the chancel, which is bare, except for the tall candlesticks, and the chancel rail, beyond which is the undraped altar of solid marble, upon which stand four small candlesticks, two at each end.
These could be identified as chancel piers, the vertical elements that held the plates closing off the chancel or bema, i.e. the area around the altar at the eastern end of a church.
At the side of the chancel was a new idol: a heavy, seated figure of Huitzilopochtli, done in black lava stone.
The sound of the monks chanting the service of sext in the chancel was a low murmur like the rushing of a distant waterfall.
Beyond the crossing, the east end of the church was called the chancel, and was mainly reserved for the monks.
The east end was called the chancel and it was shorter than the nave.