Chapel Chapels may be divided into several classes:
(1) as regards their relation to other churches; being
(a) dependent on the church of the parish, or (b) independent, in some cases even exempt from episcopal visitation.
(2) As regards their material structure; being
(a) apartments in palaces or other dwellings; (b) buildings forming part of or attached to convents, hermitages, or the like; (c) buildings forming appendages to larger churches; (d) sepulchral or other wholly detached buildings.
The following classification has sometimes been made:
(1) Isolated or detached buildings for religions worship annexed or affiliated to mother churches, without the right of having a font or cemetery; called in the statutes of Canute, "a field church," and in modern times chapels of ease.
(2) Those attached to a palace, castle, mansion, or college, less generally known as oratories; the earliest recorded in a college or university is at Paris in 1254.
(3) Chantries, or internal buildings within a church.
(4) An aisle furnished with its own altar, chalice, paten, cruets, basin, pyx, and sacring-bell.
(5) A set of vessels and vestments used in the service of the church, as when we read that a bishop bequeathed his chapel to a cathedral.
(6) A well chapel, like that of the Perpendicular period, at Hempstead; Gloucestershire, or the still more famous St. Winifred's at Holywell, where the bath, which was a place of great resort, is star-shaped, and was formerly enclosed with stone screens; round it is a vaulted ambulatory, and in front there is an entrance porch; in the upper story there is a chapel. The chapels of the first class are not permitted to contain a font, and usually have no cemetery. The Salutes Chapelles of Paris, Vincennes, Dijon, Riom, Champiguy, and Bourbon, so called as containing presumed relics of the Cross, were peculiar to France. That of Dijon is called the Palatine, from the palace of the dukes of Burgundy, in which it stood.
A strictly accurate division is, however, impossible, as some cases may be placed in either class. It is also impossible to draw a clear line between churches and chapels with regard to their material aspect, some of the latter being too important in a historical point of view, or too extensive and magnificent, to be omitted' from any attempt to trace the progress of church building.
"In the 11th century, when the practice of building crypts or subterranean churches fell into desuetude, the chapel became an integral portion of the upper structure; usually there were three at the east end, one in the center dedicated to St. Mary, set between two adjuncts. In the 12th century chapels were multiplied round the sanctuary; throughout the Norman style they were apsidal, but gradually became polygonal. In the 13th century, the Eastern chapels were added in still greater numbers round the choir; at Tours there were as many as fifteen. In this and the succeeding century chapels were erected between the buttresses of the nave-aisles. These are common abroad; and occur at King's College (Cambridge), and at Windsor, at Lincoln, in the presbytery, and formerly there was one in the nave at Canterbury.
"In England there are a group of chapels round the presbytery at Westminster, Tewkesbury, Pershore, radiating from the main building, but it was an uncommon arrangement, like the external range of chapels in the naves of Chichester and Manchester; and the lateral or transeptal line (as at Gurk) of those at Fountains, Peterborough, the Nine Altars of Durham, formerly at Bridlington, and that recently destroyed at Hexham, and the second or choir transept, as at Salisbury, Lincoln, and Canterbury. Chapels were usually founded as sepulchral chantries and maintained by families of distinction, by the bequests of ecclesiastics, and very frequently by confraternities and guilds. They resemble in many particulars the cubicles or side rooms of churches, which Paulinus of Nola says were allotted for prayer, devout reading, and commemoration of the departed; but they were no doubt rendered indispensable by the multiplication of altars which blocked up the nave and aisles, and by the enclosure of the choir with screens: and in foreign churches to strengthen the enormous stride of the buttresses, which was necessary to support the vast height of the walls, weakened by being pierced with a large clerestory. In order to provide still more room, aisles were added on either side of the transept, and in some cases there were both upper and lower chapels, as at Christchurch (Hants), and St. John's (Chester), like that built over the Clugniac ante-churches.
"In conventual establishments there was a chapel of the infirmary and a chapel of the guest-house. Occasionally we find chapels in towers, as at Canterbury and Drontheim in western towers the dedication was usually to St. Michael, as the conductor of souls to Paradise. In Christchurch (Halts) and at Bury St. Edmund's and Abingdon there were several chapels built in the cemetery and close, and this may have been a not uncommon arrangement, until such parasitical buildings were absorbed into the central minister after its reconstruction with larger dimensions on a grander scale. In the Eastern Church at Moscow, Blanskenoi, on Mount Athos, and in several parts of Ireland, there were similar groups, usually seven in number, probably to preserve the principle of having only one altar in a church."
I. Domestic Chapels. — The earliest existing example of this class is probably the small chapel now known as the Sancta Sanctorum (originally St. Lawrence) in the fragment of the ancient palace of the Lateran which still remains. It was the private chapel of the popes, and appears to have existed as early as A.D. 383; for pope Damasus then placed there certain relics (MSS. Bibl. Vat. ap. Baronius). It is a small oblong apartment on an upper floor. The example next in date has, fortunately, been singularly well preserved. It is the domestic chapel in the archbishop's palace in Ravenna, constructed or decorated by archbishop Peter Chrysologus (elected A.D. 429). Of the same character is the chapel at Cividale, in Friuli, which, although forming part of a Benedictine convent, as it measures only thirty feet by eighteen feet, can hardly have been other than a private chapel, probably of the abbot. It is attributed on historical evidence to the 8th century.. It is a parallelogram without an apse, about two fifths being- parted off by a low wall, to serve as a choir.
II. Conventual Chapels were intended for the private and daily use of the community. In some instances even more than two chapels existed in a monastery; for Adaman (De Situ Terrae Sanctae, 2, 24) says that at Mount Tabor, within the wall of enclosure of the monastery, were three churches, "non parvi sedificii." In the tower or keep of the convent of St. Macarius in the Nitrian valley are three chapels, one over the other (Sir Gardner Wilkinson, Handbook of Egypt); but it does not appear what their date is.
In Ireland there still exist some small chapels which may be assigned with probability to very early dates. Mr. Petrie (Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland, p. 133) thinks that such structures as the oratory at Gallerus, in Kerry (shown on p. 893), may be considered to be the first erected for Christian uses, and at least as ancient as the conversion of the Irish by St. Patrick. This example measures externally twenty-three feet by ten, and is sixteen feet high, the walls being four feet thick. It has a single window in its east end. As early as the 5th or 6th centuries are such buildings as Tempull Ceannanach, island of Arran, bay of Galway; Church of St. MacDara, island of Cruach Mic Dara, which are simple quadrangular buildings, without distinction between nave and chancel. Others, apparently of equal antiquity, have a small chancel attached to the nave, and entered by an archway. In no case is an apse found in Ireland.
Many of these small chapels were built of wood, and were known as "Duirtheachs," or "Dertheachs," (i.e. house of oak). Buildings of very similar character exist in Cornwall, and their foundation is attributed to missionaries from Ireland: such was the chapel of Perran zabuloe, or, St. Piran in the Sand, said to have been founded by St. Piran (or, as he is called in Ireland, St. Kieran) in the 5th century. It had been completely buried in the shifting sand of the coast, but in 1835 the sand was removed, and the building discovered in an almost perfect state.
III. Parochial Chapels. — Structures of the third class, those attached to churches, may be divided into several sections, according as they form part of the main building above ground, or are connected with the main building, but distinct from it; and as they are under ground, like vaults.
1. Above Ground and Connected. — One almost unique example falling under this section in very ancient times exists in the church of Roman Motier, where the upper story of the narthex has a small apse on the east, and was therefore probably intended to serve as a chapel; it is nearly square in plan, and divided into three aisles by two ranges of columns supporting groined vaults. As the church of which this forms a part was a large conventual one, this was probably intended to serve as the smaller chapel generally found in convents. The church is believed to date from 753, the narthex to be somewhat later.
2. Above Ground and Separate. The chapels which belong to this section, viz. those attached to churches, but distinct buildings, are not very numerous, and in most cases their primary object was sepulchral. Such the three attached to the Church of San Lorenzo at Milan would appear to have been, though that on the south may have been a baptistery, and that on the north a porch or vestibule.
The practice of constructing such appendages to a church continued exceptional. None appear on the plan for the monastery of St. Gall, no doubt prepared between 820 and 830; nor do any seem to have formed parts of the minster of Aix-la-Chapelle.
In the East the rule has always been to have only one altar in a church; and chapels have, therefore, rarely formed parts of churches, but are sometimes found attached to them. An instance of the latter would appear to exist in a church of St. Demetrius at Thessalonica; and to the Convent of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai six chapels are attached on each side of the nave, but these are doubtless not of the original fabric.
3. Subterraneous Chapels, or crypts (q.v.). We have probably an instance in the remains of the Basilica of San Stefano, in Via Latina, built by pope Leo, 440-461, at Rome. Where, however, no chamber existed, a crypt was not constructed; Hence, in the earlier churches of that city, we find no crypt forming part of the original plan, but small excavations under the altar, to receive some holy corpse brought from the extramural cemeteries. In San Apollinare-in-Classe, at Ravenna, a crypt appears as part of the original structure; it consists of a passage running within the wall of the apse, and another passing under the high altar.
Although French antiquaries (Martigny, Dict. des Antiq. Chret. art. Crypte) have claimed a very high antiquity for crypts under several churches in France, they are probably not structural crypts. Two crypts, however, exist, which were, it would seem, structural; these are those of St. Irenseus (founded in the 4th century) at Lyons, and of St. Victor at Marseilles (5th century).
Two remarkable crypts exist in England, one in the cathedral of Ripon, and the other in the abbey church of Hexham; both attributed to St. Wilfrid (A.D. 670-678). The model which he followed was evidently not the "confessio" of a church, but the cubiculum and galleries of a Roman catacomb. Crypts existed in the Saxon church of Canterbury, in the plan for the Church of St. Gall (made about 800), and there is one in the Church of Brixworth, Northamptonshire. A remarkable crypt, or "confessio," exists under the raised presbytery of the Church of St. Caecilia at Rome, and apparently dates from the construction of the building by pope Paschal I. (817-824). It consists of a vaulted space south of the altar (the church stands nearly north and south), a passage running round the interior of the apse, and another passage running south from the north end of the former, but stopped by a mass of masonry supporting the high-altar. Within this mass is a sarcophagus, containing the body of the saint. SEE CONFESSIO.
4. Sepulchral Chapels, or Mausoleums (q.v.), were constructed at a very early period. The greater part of the chambers in the catacombs near Rome may be considered as belonging to the class of sepulchral chapels. At what time the practice of placing an altar and of celebrating the eucharistic service in a sepulchral chapel was first introduced cannot be stated with precision. As, however, the practice of praying for the dead existed in the 4th and even in the 3rd century, it seems not unlikely that the practice of placing altars in sepulchral chapels may have come into use in the former of those periods. Perhaps the earliest undoubted instance of such a chapel is that of the "Templum Probi," a small basilica attached to the exterior of the apse of St. Peter's at Rome, and built by Sixtus Anicius Petronius Probus, who died A.D. 395. SEE CELLA.
IV. Detached chapel-like buildings not attached to convents, and not sepulchral, are seldom met with, though probably once common. In most instances they have perished either from time or neglect. In the Hauran, however, where since the 6th century the ruined cities have been uninhabited and the country a desert, many buildings which Count de Vogiiu (La Syrie Centrale, Avantpropos, p. 8) considers to have been oratories or chapels still exist. A good example of these Kalybes is that of Um-es-Zeituf. which an inscription engraved on its front shows to have been built in A.D. 282. One example may be mentioned of a detached chapel of an early date, which was not necessarily sepulchral, that, namely, built by pope Damasus (367-385) near the baptistery of the Lateran at Rome, but not now in existence.