4. Applied to places of Christian worship other than those of the established church of the country: e.g. to those of Roman Catholics in Great Britain and Ireland, and of the Episcopal Church in Scotland; of the Nonconformists ejected in 1662; of Methodists since the 18th century, and, recently, of Protestant Dissenters generally (in England and Wales).
These uses go back to a time when ‘church’ had still its historical value of the endowed place of worship of a parish, with its beneficed rector or vicar, tithes, etc., and when no other place of worship, whatever its architecture, ritual, or communion, was thought of as the ‘church’. Of R.C. chapels the earliest mentioned were those of foreign ambassadors, and Roman Catholic queens of the Stuarts (see sense 2a); in the 18th cent., and down to 1830-40, ‘chapel’ was the regular name, as it is still in Ireland. The name first used by Protestants separating from the Church of England was apparently ‘meeting-house’; but the places of worship founded by the non-conforming clergymen ejected in 1662 were commonly ‘chapels’; after that, ‘meeting-house’ and ‘chapel’ were used more or less synonymously by Protestant Dissenters; the former became the prevailing name in the 18th century, but was mostly abandoned for ‘chapel’ in the first half of the 19th century (except by Quakers). For his connection, Wesley introduced ‘preaching-house’; but Methodist Churchmen appear to have preferred ‘chapel’; and it was in the sequel often used by Wesley as = ‘preaching-house’, and gradually took its place. During the 19th century, the custom of applying ‘church’ to the parochial and district chapels of the Church of England, was followed by the use of ‘church’ for ‘chapel’ by Roman Catholics, Scottish Episcopalians, and many Nonconformists. (See church n.1 and adj.) But the earlier usage has made chapel in Ireland the common appellation of the R.C. places of worship and service, as distinguished from those of the Protestant (Episcopal) Church; and in England and Wales of nonconformist places of worship or service, as distinguished from those of the Church of England. Hence such combinations as chapel-goer, chapel-going, chapel-people, etc.