Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches - Communion Rail Definition

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 mystery historic attraction
See larger image



Who rebuilt St Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire of London?



29 May, 1593

John Penry executed

Penry was convicted as the author of the Marprelate Tracts, which denied Elizabeth I's supremacy over the Church

She was later dubbed 'the Nine Day's Queen'



Passionate about British Heritage!