Chapel (Lat. capella, a little cloak or hood). The kings of France are said to have preserved a piece of the cloak of St. Martin in a little church, and to have taken it with them to the field of battle. The tent or church containing this capella hence received its name. The term was afterward applied to all small churches, and especially to the side rooms or chapels added to the side aisles of a church, and which were separately dedicated, usually to the service of some saint. Before the Reformation nearly all castles, manor- houses, courthouses, and religious or charitable establishments had such chapels. These had not the right of sepulture, nor of sacramental services.
The term chapel was also sometimes applied to the sets of vessels or the vestments necessary for the celebration of the church services. It is also sometimes applied to a choir of singers; also to a printer's workhouse, or a body of printers, because printing in England was first carried on in a chapel of Westminster Abbey.
In England the word is now used to denote,
1. Domestic chapels, built by noblemen for private worship in their families;
2. College chapels, attached to colleges;
3. Chapels of ease, built for the use of parishioners who live at too great a distance from the parish church;
4. Parochial chapels, which differ from chapels of ease on account of their having a permanent minister or incumbent, though they are in some degree dependent upon the mother church;
5. Free chapels, such as were founded by kings of England, and made exempt from episcopal jurisdiction;
6. Chapels which adjoin to any part of the church; such were formerly built by persons of consideration as burial-places. In the great Roman cathedrals and churches of Europe side-chapels are commonly fitted up for prayer, with an altar and the other necessary appendages.
The Methodists and Disseinters in England call their churches chapels, and this erroneous use of the word has crept somewhat into use in America.