STALL (O. Eng. steall, stael, cf. Du. stal, Ger. and Swed. Stall, a common Teutonic word for a place, station, place for standing in; the root is the Indo-European sla-, to stand, seen also in Latin stabulum, Greek 0ra0juos, and in stallion, an entire horse, properly one kept in a stall and not worked), a word which means literally a place where one may stand, and so is applied to a separate division in a stable, shed, etc., in which a single horse, cow or other domestic animal may be kept, to a separate booth, bench or table in a market or other building, or in the street, on which goods are exposed for sale by the person owning or licensed to use the same, and in England to the higher-priced seats on the ground floor of a theatre. The word is more particularly applied to a special form of seat in an ecclesiastical building. In cathedrals, monastic churches and the larger parish churches the stalls are fixed seats enclosed at the back and separated at the sides by high projecting arms, and placed in one or more rows on the north and south sides of the choir or chancel, running from the sanctuary to the screen or chancel arch. These separate enclosed seats are properly reserved for the clergy, and more usually the choir are seated in open benches in front of the stalls. In a cathedral the canons and prebendaries have each a stall assigned to them.
In the chapels of the various knightly orders the stalls are assigned to the members of the order, thus, in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, are the stalls of the Knights of the Garter, in Henry VII. 's Chapel in Westminster Abbey are those of the Knights of the Bath, adorned with the stall plates emblazoned with the arms of the knight occupying the stall, above which is suspended his banner.
Architecturally and artistically considered, the stalls of a cathedral or church are a marked feature of the interior adornment. They are richly carved, and are frequently surmounted by canopies of tabernacle work. The seats generally can be folded back so as to allow the occupant to stand upright or kneel; beneath the seat, especially in monastic churches, is fixed a small bracket, a miserere (q.v.), which affords a slight rest for the person while standing. Among beautiful specimens of carved stalls may be mentioned the Early Decorated stalls in Winchester Cathedral, the Early Perpendicular ones in Lincoln Minster, and the early i sth-century canopies in Norwich Cathedral. The stalls, especially the towering corner-stalls with their ornate carving filled with figures, in Amiens Cathedral are very fine; they date from 1508-1520.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)