- Private chapel attached to the English court, and home of one of the foremost vocal ensembles of Europe until the 18th century. The Chapel Royal choir originated as a group of administrator clerks temporarily assigned to sing at English royal liturgies. By the late 13th century, a permanent capella regis was established. By 1360, membership had grown to 16 men and four children; by the mid-15th century it was 36 and 10, a liturgical choir of highly skilled, well-paid singers that likely encouraged the high standards of composition of the time. Royal patronage continued through the Elizabethan period, while music in outlying parishes languished under Puritan influence. Abolished during the Commonwealth, it recovered much of its stature under Charles II (after 1660), who augmented its vocal and instrumental resources with a band of 24 violins in imitation of the court of France. Henry Purcell was its last outstanding composer. Under the Hanoverians and the general secularization of English society, the Chapel Royal declined as a musical institution, although it survives to the present.
Historical dictionary of sacred music. Joseph P. Swain. 2006.
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