go to home page go to byland abbey pages go to fountains abbey pages go to kirkstall abbey pages go to rievaulx abbey pages go to roche abbey pages
The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

View Movies Kirkstall Abbey: the guesthouse


Who was the guestmaster and what did he do?

Kirkstall, like other Cistercian abbeys, would have had several guesthouses within the precinct where visitors could be received appropriately, without disturbing the community. Most guests who visited Kirkstall were shown to a hospice which probably lay to the north of the galilee porch, east of the inner gatehouse. The exact location of this hospice is not known.(1) Visitors were tended here by the guestmaster (or hosteller, as he was known) and, at least in the early days, ate with the abbot.

Cistercian abbots at first dined in the guesthouse with all visitors, but there is evidence that by the late twelfth century some dined with more distinguished guests in private chambers while the other visitors dined in the guesthall.

More distinguished guests, such as members of the De Lacy family, the patrons of Kirkstall, stayed in a guesthouse to the west of the inner court, which faced the abbey church. The site of this guesthouse has been extensively excavated and much is now known of the layout and phasing of the buildings here, which date from the early thirteenth century, but probably replaced an earlier timber structure.