Religion during the
The Medieval Christian Church
dominated the everyday lives of all the people. It was the age of
ritualised prayer, pilgrimages, shrines, relics, religious rites,
Religious Festivals, crusades and
in many countries, the Inquisition. There was little choice - either
adhere to the teachings of the church or be excommunicated and writhe in
the fires of Hell for all eternity. The castle Chapel was one of the most
important parts of the castle.
Time spent on Prayer
during the Medieval era
The Medieval Christians were expected
to pray four times a day. The prayer times were:
In the evening
The time spent on
prayers varied but could range between 5 and 30 minutes. The
strict prayer requirements explain why the Chapel was built
within castles. The development of a place for private prayer
for the Lord and his family, the Oratory,
is also explained.
of the Castle Chapel
The Castle Chapel
was to intended for prayer and used by all
members of the castle household. The Chapel was often built two stories
high, with the nave divided horizontally. The Lord's family and
dignitaries sat in the upper part and the servants occupied the lower part
of the chapel. The chapel was probably the most elaborately furnished,
rich in ornaments church plate and embroidered vestments, having glazed
windows and colorful furniture. A chapel features would include a painted
rood-screen and an altar chest. The Chaplain would say the Mass and lead
the prayers but another important event took place in the Castle Chapel.
Medieval Knights undertook a highly
riualised Night Vigil in the Chapel of the Castle
when they made their formal entry into Knighthood.
Location of the Castle Chapel
The Castle Chapel
was usually close to the Great hall.
The Chapel could, however, also be
found situated behind the Gatehouse.
The enemy would then be forced to fire on the Chapel as they were
attacking the main entrance to the castle - God was seen as being on the
side of the Defenders of the castle!
Origin, Meaning of the word 'Chapel
The Origin and Meaning of the word
' derives from the Medieval Latin word 'capella' and the Old French word 'chapele'
,meaning hooded cloak. This name derives from the cloak which belonged to
St Martin who was once the Bishop of Tours. The cloak was kept as a holy
relic and over time the shrine where the cloak was kept took on the name
of the cloak - the Chapel.