Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches

History and Architecture

Communion Rail

A railing separating an altar from nearby sections of the church. Communion rails are most commonly used to separate the sanctuary, where the high altar stands, from the chancel. In Church of England (Anglican) churches people receiving communion kneel at the rail and place their hands upon it while the priest gives them consecrated bread and wine. Such rails may generically be termed 'altar rails'. Most are of wood, though more modern versions often use iron.

One theory is that communion rails came into use for the very practical purpose of keeping dogs and other stray animals away from the altar area, at a time when bringing such animals into the church would not have been uncommon.

Related: Chancel   Sanctuary   Altar  

Attraction search
in



National Trust

National Trust membership

National Trust membership

Free entry to National Trust properties throughout England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, plus discounted admission to National Trust for Scotand properties.

Membership details

About the National Trust


HISTORY CORNER

Name the Historic attraction

Name the mystery historic attraction
See larger image



British History Quiz

This Chancellor of England was named Archbishop of Canterbury by Richard II, who then banished him. He returned when Henry IV deposed Richard.



 Clue

This Day in British History

12 December, 1889

Death of Robert Browning

Best known as a poet and playwright, Browning (b. 1812) was married to poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Monarch Mayhem

This king was only nine months old when he became king



 Clue

Passionate about British Heritage!