a chantry may refer to one of two meanings of the term. firstly, it could mean the prayers and liturgy in the christian church reserved for the dead as part of the search for atonement for sins committed during their life. it might include the mass and by extension, the endowment left for the purpose of the continuance of prayers and liturgy. it could be called a type of "trust fund" established during the pre-reformation medieval era in england for the purpose of employing one or more priests to sing a stipulated number of services for the benefit of the soul of a specified deceased person, usually the donor who had established the chantry in his will. there could be a stipulated period of time immediately following her/his death. it was believed such masses might help atone for misdeeds and with mercy enable the soul to be granted eternal peace in the presence of god. chantries were commonly established in england and were endowed with lands, rents from specified properties and other assets by the donor, usually in his will. the income from these assets maintained the "chantry" priest.
alternatively, a chantry chapel is a building on private land or a dedicated area or altar within a parish church or cathedral, set aside or built especially for the performance of the "chantry duties" by the priest. a chantry may occupy a single altar, for example in the side aisle of a church, rather than an enclosed chapel within a larger church, generally dedicated to the donor's favourite saint. many chantry altars became richly endowed, often with gold furnishings and valuable vestments. over the centuries, chantries increased in embellishments, often by attracting new donors and chantry priests. those feoffees who could afford to employ them, in many cases enjoyed great wealth. sometimes this led to corruption of the consecrated life expected of clergymen. it also led in general to an accumulation of great wealth and power in the church, beyond the feudal control of the crown. this evident amassing of assets was one of the pretexts used by king henry viii to order the dissolution of the monasteries in england. at that time, chantries were abolished and their assets were sold or granted to persons at the discretion of henry and his son king edward vi, via the court of augmentations. many tudor businessmen, such as thomas bell (1486–1566) of gloucester, acquired chantries as financial investments for the afterlife, but yielding income streams in the here and now, derived from chantry rents, or they "unbundled" the chantry assets and sold them on piecemeal at a profit.