Kirkstall Abbey: the cloister
Whereas the south, east and west walkways essentially
functioned as passageways, the north alley of the cloister was used
extensively by the monks who sat here on stone benchesto read, meditate
and perhaps also to copy manuscripts; the novice-master might instruct
novices and the whole community gathered here each day for the Collation reading.
Whilst the cloister would have been warm and bright in
the summer, the monks would have found it rather bleak during the
chilly winter months, and when it was extremely cold they were permitted
to read in the chapter-house, instead.
The cloister was also used for more
activities: it was here that the monks shaved, washed themselves
and their clothes, and hung the laundry to dry. Remains of the
of basins (the lavabo) where the community washed their hands before
entering the refectory and also where they washed their clothes
can be seen to the west of the warming house.
The cloister at Kirkstall was originally about
thirty-five square metres, but was enlarged in the late fifteenth
ran between the cloister and the western range was removed and
this area incorporated within the cloister.
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