The Medieval Chantry Chapel

The Medieval Chantry Chapel

An Archaeology

Simon Roffey


Boydell Press



An archaeological investigation into the structure of the medieval chantry chapel, with many implications for religious practice at the time.
The chantry -- a special, often private, chapel within a church dedicated to a particular benefactor or benefactor's family, where prayers for the benefactor's soul were said -- was probably the most common, and also one of the most distinctive, of all late medieval religious foundations. These structures, although much altered with time, are still a very noticeable feature of many late medieval parish churches. However, no systematic, thorough or comparative examination has been undertaken to discover what they may reveal about contemporary devotion, aspiration and planning. This is a void which this book seeks to fill. It shows how the use of archaeological approaches can illuminate aspects of medieval religious practice only hinted at in many historical documents; it also demonstrates how the structural and spatial analysis of former chantry chapels can shed light on the level of private and communal piety and reveal a wider, more universal, context to chantry foundation in the medieval parish church. In addition, it discusses how various personal strategies for intercession shaped both chapel space and fabric, and the ultimate effects of the Reformation on such structures.
Includes a selected gazetteer of chantry chapels.

Dr SIMON ROFFEY teaches in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Winchester.


November 2007
37 black and white, 36 line illustrations
206 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in the History of Medieval Religion
ISBN: 9781843833345
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Medieval Visions of the Afterlife
Setting the Context: Early Origins and Influences on Later Medieval Chantry Foundation
Sources and Approaches
Medieval Chantry Chapels: Form and Fabric
The Social and Religious Context of Chantry Chapels in the Medieval Parish Church
The Reformation of Chantry Chapels
Case Studies: Stoke Charity, Bridgwater and Mere
Selected Gazetteer


There is much of value and interest in this book. [It is] an imaginative study. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

A welcome contribution to this important feature of late-medieval religion. SPECULUM

An important and thought-provoking study, providing many new insights into a subject that has for too long been approached solely through the documentary evidence. JOURNAL OF MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY

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