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 dressing 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 were 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 white and 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
may have 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.
In the fourteenth century the General
Chapter conceded that priors
and sub-priors might have greater privacy and construct cells within
the dormitory, i.e. 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 and greater comfort.(60)