The monks were expected to observe silence in
the claustral area and to communicate by signs when necessary.
Nevertheless, there were times when conversation was necessary
and this took place in the parlour. The parlour at Byland stood
to the south of the chapter-house and, like it, was rib-vaulted.
There were benches along the side. The parlour was not to be used
for idle gossip, but for essential communication only. The master
of novices might speak
with visiting monks here. He was also permitted to talk to novices
under his charge, during the first two months
of their probationary period. The prior could hear novices’ confessions
in the parlour during the time allocated to reading, and the monks
gathered in the parlour after the daily chapter meeting for the
allocation of tasks. The parlour may also have been used by the
monks to hang their cowls.(32)