Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches

History and Architecture

Aisle

The term 'aisle' comes from the Latin ala, or wing. In the medieval period an aisle became used to describe a corridor or building wing. In church architecture the term refers to a lengthwise division of the interior, where aisles flanked a central nave and, in some cases, the chancel as well. Aisles are usually divided from the nave by an arcade or colonnade. Smaller churches might have only one aisle, or indeed, none. Where there is only one aisle, it is frequently on the north side of the nave. Aisles often have a separate roof, usually at a lower level than the nave. Sometimes the nave wall above aisle level is pierced with windows to create a clerestory.

Related: Arcade   Chancel   Clerestory   Nave  

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