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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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The chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and attached to churches of large size. Generally the chapel was built eastward of the high altar and formed a projection from the main building, as in Winchester, Salisbury, Exeter, Wells, St Albans, Chichester, Peterborough and Norwich cathedrals, - in the two latter cases now destroyed. The earliest Lady-chapel built was that in the Saxon cathedral of Canterbury; this was transfered in the rebuilding by Archbishop Lanfranc to the west end of the nave, and again shifted in 1450 to the chapel on the east side of the north transept. The Lady-chapel at Ely cathedral is a distinct building attached to the north transept; at Rochester the Lady-chapel is west of the south transept. Probably the largest Lady-chapel was that built by Henry III. in 1220 at Westminster Abbey, which was 30 ft. wide, much in excess of any foreign example, and extended to the end of the site now occupied by Henry VII.'s chapel. Among other notable English examples of Lady-chapels are those at OtterySt-Mary, Thetford, Bury St Edmund's, Wimborne, Christchurch, Hampshire; in Compton Church, Surrey, and Compton Martin, Somersetshire, and Darenth, Kent, it was built over the chancel. At Croyland Abbey there were two Lady-chapels. Lady-chapels exist in most of the French cathedrals and churches, where they form part of the chevet; in Belgium they were not introduced before the 14th century; in some cases they are of the same size as the other chapels of the chevet, but in others, probably rebuilt at a later period, they became much more important features, and in Italy and Spain during the Renaissance period constitute some of its best examples.

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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Lady-Chapel'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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