a cupboard, locker, or recess. In church, for keeping vestments, books, or other articles. Used by a confusion for almonry, or niche in the wall where alms, etc., were deposited. Now used for holding the sacramental plate, consecrated oil, and so on. The secret drawers of an escritoire are called ambries. (Archaic English almary, Latin armarium, French armoire.)
Ther avarice hath almaries, And yren-bouden cofres.
Piers Ploughman, p. 288.
Almonry is from the Latin eleemosynarium, a place for alms.
“The place wherein this Chapel or Almshouse stands was called the ‘Elemosinary’ or Almonry, now corrupted into Ambrey, for that the alms of the Abbey are there distributed to the poor.” —Stow: Survey.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894