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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

The kitchen


Tiled floor in the kitchen at Rievaulx Abbey
© Cistercians in Yorkshire Project
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Tiled floor in the kitchen at Rievaulx Abbey

The first kitchen at Rievaulx was completed during Aelred’s abbacy (1147-67) and was remodelled in the late twelfth century when Abbot Silvan built the spectacular new refectory. At this time the kitchen was vaulted, a necessary measure to fireproof the building. In the fourteenth century there were further changes. The fall in numbers meant that the kitchen, like other buildings, could be reduced. New tiled hearths were added and remains of these can be seen today.

The kitchen supplied the monks’ and the lay-brothers’ refectories with fish and vegetables and was positioned in such a way that it could serve both communities through dumb-waiter style hatches. No meat was cooked here, for this was at first prohibited to all but the sick and when later permitted it was cooked in a separate meat kitchen and eaten in a special room known as the misericord.

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