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  




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 Scotland properties.

Membership details

About the National Trust


HISTORY CORNER
Name the mystery historic attraction
See larger image



This battle took place on 14 April 1471 between Yorkists under the future Edward IV and Lancastrians under Warwick 'The Kingmaker'



27 May, 1199

John I crowned at Westminster Abbey

John had already been anointed Duke of Normandy after the death of his brother, Richard I

This king's two wives were both named Isabella



Passionate about British Heritage!