Chapter house
A chapter house or chapterhouse is a building or room attached to a cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 or collegiate church
Collegiate church
In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons; a non-monastic, or "secular" community of clergy, organised as a self-governing corporate body, which may be presided over by a dean or provost...

 in which meetings are held. They can also be found in medieval monasteries
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...


When part of a monastery, the chapter house is generally located on the eastern wing of the cloister
A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth...

. It comprises a large space, in order to hold all the monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s of the monastery, and is often highly ornamented. In some Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 or Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 monasteries, the entrance to the chapter house constitutes a veritable façade
A facade or façade is generally one exterior side of a building, usually, but not always, the front. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning "frontage" or "face"....

 in miniature, with a door surrounded by highly decorated archivolt
An archivolt is an ornamental molding or band following the curve on the underside of an arch. It is composed of bands of ornamental moldings surrounding an arched opening, corresponding to the architrave in the case of a rectangular opening...


The community of monks would meet in the chapter house with the abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

 to "hold chapter
Chapter (religion)
Chapter designates certain corporate ecclesiastical bodies in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Nordic Lutheran churches....

"; that is, to read aloud from the rule book and Bible and discuss matters concerning the monastery and its inhabitants. The meetings generally took place in the morning, after mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...

; the monks would sit along the length of the walls in strict age-order. At the end of the meeting the monks would publicly confess their sins or denounce others' (anonymously).

The side of the cloister on which the chapter house was located was usually the first to be constructed; it would have begun to be built shortly after the church’s frame was erected.
When attached to a cathedral, the cathedral chapter
Cathedral chapter
In accordance with canon law, a cathedral chapter is a college of clerics formed to advise a bishop and, in the case of a vacancy of the episcopal see in some countries, to govern the diocese in his stead. These councils are made up of canons and dignitaries; in the Roman Catholic church their...

 meets there. When attached to a collegiate church, the dean
Dean (religion)
A dean, in a church context, is a cleric holding certain positions of authority within a religious hierarchy. The title is used mainly in the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.-Anglican Communion:...

, prebendaries
A prebendary is a post connected to an Anglican or Catholic cathedral or collegiate church and is a type of canon. Prebendaries have a role in the administration of the cathedral...

 and canon
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

s of the college meet there.

Examples of chapter houses can be seen at:
  • Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze
    Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze
    The Basilica di Santa Croce is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres south east of the Duomo. The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls...

  • Convent of the Order of Christ in Tomar
  • St Albans Abbey
  • Beauchief Abbey
    Beauchief Abbey
    Beauchief Abbey is a former abbey in Sheffield, England. Beauchief is prounounced bee-chiff.-History:The abbey was founded by Robert FitzRanulf de Alfreton. Thomas Tanner, writing in 1695, stated that it was founded in 1183...

  • Elgin Cathedral
    Elgin Cathedral
    Elgin Cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, sometimes referred to as The Lantern of the North is a historic ruin in Elgin, Moray, north-east Scotland. It was established in 1224 on an area of ground granted by Alexander II that was close to the River Lossie and outside of the burgh of...

  • Westminster Abbey
    Westminster Abbey
    The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

  • Exeter Cathedral
    Exeter Cathedral
    Exeter Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter at Exeter, is an Anglican cathedral, and the seat of the Bishop of Exeter, in the city of Exeter, Devon in South West England....

  • Ithaca NY
  • Gloucester Cathedral
    Gloucester Cathedral
    Gloucester Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, in Gloucester, England, stands in the north of the city near the river. It originated in 678 or 679 with the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter .-Foundations:The foundations of the present...

  • Lincoln Cathedral
    Lincoln Cathedral
    Lincoln Cathedral is a historic Anglican cathedral in Lincoln in England and seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England. It was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 249 years . The central spire collapsed in 1549 and was not rebuilt...

  • Margam Abbey
    Margam Abbey
    Margam Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, located in the village of Margam, a suburb of modern Port Talbot in Wales.-History:The abbey was founded in 1147 as a daughter house of Clairvaux by Robert, Earl of Gloucester and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The abbey was dissolved by King...

  • Rievaulx Abbey
    Rievaulx Abbey
    Rievaulx Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey headed by the Abbot of Rievaulx. It is located in Rievaulx , near Helmsley in North Yorkshire, England.It was one of the wealthiest abbeys in England and was dissolved by Henry VIII of England in 1538...

  • Salisbury Cathedral
    Salisbury Cathedral
    Salisbury Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an Anglican cathedral in Salisbury, England, considered one of the leading examples of Early English architecture....

  • Southwell Minster
    Southwell Minster
    Southwell Minster is a minster and cathedral, in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, England. It is six miles away from Newark-on-Trent and thirteen miles from Mansfield. It is the seat of the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham and the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.It is considered an outstanding...

  • York Minster
    York Minster
    York Minster is a Gothic cathedral in York, England and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe alongside Cologne Cathedral. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the cathedral for the Diocese of York; it is run by...

  • Wąchock Abbey
    Cistercians Abbey in Wachock
    right|thumb|250px|Wąchock AbbeyWąchock Abbey is a Cistercian abbey in Wąchock, Poland. Located near the larger town of Starachowice in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains of south-eastern Poland, Wąchock is best known for the architecture of this Roman Catholic site.The abbey was founded by Cistercian...

Non-religious use of the chapter house design:
  • Library of Parliament
    Library of Parliament
    The Library of Parliament is the main information repository and research resource for the Parliament of Canada...

    , Parliament of Canada
    Parliament of Canada
    The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

External links

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