A building attached to a monastery or cathedral in which the meetings of the chapter are held. In monasteries the chapter house was used daily after Prime (and sometimes after Terce ), for the reading of the "Martyrology" and the "Necrology", for the correction of faults, the assigning of the tasks for the day, and for the exhortation of the superior, and again for the evening Collation or reading before Complin. Secular canons used the chapter house for similar purposes, and for the formal transaction of public business of common interest to the body corporate. The chapter house is not mentioned by St. Benedict (d. 543), nor is it indicated in the ancient plan of the Abbey of St. Gall, drawn up in 820; the monks then probably assembled for chapter in a part of the cloister near the church. The need of a separate building made itself felt, and the chapter house is mentioned in the statutes approved by the Council of Aachen in 816. The shape of the chapter houses varied: some were rectangular, others rectangular with an apsidal termination, others again were circular or polygonal. The rectangular room, with a wooden roof, and little architectural distinction, is characteristic of the continent of Europe. In England the chapter house was the object of very careful designing and elaborate ornamentation; the polygonal-shaped chapter house is a triumph of English thirteenth-century architecture, and no single instance of it is found either in France or Germany. The earliest example is probably that of Lincoln, decagonal in shape, which was built from 1240-1260. Other instances are those of York, Lichfield, Southwell, Salisbury, and Wells. English examples of the elongated form will be found at Bristol, Canterbury, Chester, Durham, Gloucester, and Oxford. The ingenious theory which seeks to identify the polygonal shape with secular foundations, and the rectangular shape with monastic foundations, breaks down in presence of the circular chapter house of Worcester, and the octagonal chapter house of Westminster Abbey, both Benedictine in origin.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online