chapter house

chapter house, a building in which the chapter of the clergy meets. Its plan varies, the simplest being a rectangle. At Worcester, England, the Norman builders created a circular chapter house (c.1100), with vaulting springing from a central pillar. Subsequent examples, adopting this central support for their vaulted roofs but frequently having a polygonal plan, are among the most distinctive achievements of the English Gothic builders. Those at Salisbury, Wells, and Westminster Abbey (1250) are octagonal, while that at Lincoln is decagonal. At York, the octagonal room (c.1300) exhibits a departure in that it dispenses with the central column and is covered with a vaulted wooden roof.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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