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 lay-brothers' range


Artist's impression of a lay-brothers' dormitory
© Cistercians in Yorkshire
<click to enlarge>
Artist's impression of the lay brothers dormitory

The lay-brothers’ dormitory occupied the upper level of the western range. In the abbey’s heyday there would have been about a hundred lay-brothers at Roche, half of whom would have worked and resided on the granges. Like the monks the lay-brothers each had a mat, pillow and a light covering, but instead of a woollen blanket they used animal skins.(11) During the day the lay-brothers probably entered their dormitory via a stone staircase in the cloister, but there is no surviving evidence of this at Roche. At night-time they used a covered passage that ran above the western doorway and provided sheltered access to the church for Vigils; remains of this can be seen in the north wall of the cellar. The lay-brothers had their own latrine-block which they entered from the southern end of their dormitory. This ran over the drain so that waste would be flushed away by running water. The privies here would have been arranged in a line, separated by wooden screens, just as they were in the monks’ latrines. Whilst nothing, save the drain, remains of the lay-brothers’ latrines at Roche, visitors to Kirkstall Abbey will soon be able to see a reconstruction of part of the medieval sewers and privies, complete with authentic sounds and smells.

<back> <next section>