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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

View Movies The reredorters


Drain at Kirkstall Abbey
© Abbey House Museum
Drain at Kirkstall Abbey  Abbey House Museum

The monks’ toilet block, known as the reredorter, was conveniently placed at the far end of their dormitory, off the southern range. The lay-brothers and guests had their own separate latrine blocks. The reredorter ran over the drain so that waste was carried away by running water. There were two doors to the latrines, one to enter and one to leave, thereby ensuring one-way traffic. Inside a line of privies was separated by screens, and the monks sat on removable wooden seats. The brethren were allowed to use the toilets whenever necessary but were expected to exercise modesty at all times: they were to cover their faces with their hoods, fold their hands in front of them and ensure that their cowls reached the floor.

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