When they rest on their beds, each of them lies alone
and girdled, in habit and tunic in winter and summer.
[Walter Daniel, Life of
A cure for insomnia Look at your coarse woollen blanket and bedcovers and compare your
bed to the grave, just as if you were entering it for burial … If
you can sleep, all is well; if you cannot, experience has proved that
if you say the Athanasian Creed seven times or the Seven Penitential
Psalms, you will fall asleep.
[Stephen of Sawley, ch. 20 ‘Meditation when you go to bed’ p.
In accordance with chapter 22 of
the Rule of St Benedict the monks slept fully clothed ‘as if to prepare
for the Lord’. This was
for reasons of modesty and to prevent vice, but also meant that
when the bell for night Vigils sounded the monks did not have to waste time
and could simply climb out of bed to make their way to the choir
stalls in the church. The monks lay on mattresses filled with straw, which
arranged around the room; there would have been a closet of sorts
in the centre for their clothing. Bedclothes were to be either black or
pillows of a moderate size. At first all the monks slept in the
dormitory, but the abbot later moved to his own lodgings. The sacrist too
occupied a separate chamber so that he could rise before the others
to sound the bell for Vigils and keep an eye on the goings on in the church.
fourteenth century, the General
Chapter conceded that priors and
sub-priors might have greater privacy and construct cells within the dormitory,
rooms furnished with a lock. It is likely that partitions or screens
were also added for the other monks at this time, to provide some seclusion