Altar rails

ALTAR RAILS. Archbishop Laud, 1640, ordered that the Holy Table should be placed at the east end of the chancel, and protected from rude approach by rails. They do not appear to have been in general use in the Western Church before the Reformation; although it is probable their use in the side chapels of Cathedrals is early. It is hard to say whether by the Latin word cancelli  is meant the chancel-screen or the altar-rails, in some cases probably the latter. The use of altar-rails is ancient in the Eastern Church. The space within the rails, where the altar stands, is called the sanctuary.