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 Roche Abbey: the cloister


Artist's impression of a monk reading in the cloister
© Cistercians in Yorkshire
<click to enlarge>
Artist's impression of a monk reading in the cloister

Whereas the south, east and west walkways of the cloister essentially functioned as passageways, the north alley was used extensively by the monks who sat here on stone benches to read, meditate and perhaps also to copy manuscripts. The novice-master might instruct novices here and the whole community gathered in the north alley each day for the Collation reading. The cloister would have been warm and bright in the summer, but the monks would have found it rather bleak during the chilly winter months, and if it was extremely cold they were permitted to read in the chapter-house, instead. The cloister was also used for more practical activities: it was here that the monks shaved, washed themselves and their clothes, and hung the laundry to dry. The laundry at Roche was probably situated on the north side of the cloister, where a circular hole and the remains of a drain can be seen between two large buttresses.(1)

Although little of Roche’s cloister has survived, a section of the cloister arcade has been reconstructed from pieces recovered during excavation of the site, and can now be seen in the abbey museum. This reveals that the cloister arcade was of early Gothic design and was one of the finest and most elaborate in the country. It underwent little alteration until the dissolution of the abbey in the sixteenth century.(2)

<back> <next section>