Chancel, that portion of a church specially occupied by the clergy, and usually separated from the nave and aisles by screens made of carved stone or oak. The screen which separated the chancel from the nave was formerly called the rood screen, because a rood or large crucifix was usually placed on it, accompanied with two figures representing St. John and the Virgin Mary. In the chancel were situated the high altar, the sedilia, or scats for the officiating clergy, and the piscina, in which the water used for washing the hands of the celebrant was poured. It was usually surrounded with carved seats or stalls, which were occupied by the clergy not engaged in the services. These were also used when the office was sung in choir, a lecturn being placed in the centre of the chancel. The stalls were usually enriched with carvings, and had canopies of carved oak placed over them. The chancel in Gothic buildings occupies the place of the apsis in the ancient basilicas, and was called so from the cancelli or rails which were used in the early churches to separate the clergy from the laity.