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  Plan of Roche abbey showing the refectory(1/3)
Roche Abbey: the refectory

The monks’ refectory at Roche stood at right angles to the church, between the warming-house and the kitchen, and measured c. 9m x c. 27m. It dates from the late twelfth century and is built according to the arrangement favoured in Cistercian abbeys at this time – it runs from north to south rather than from east to west, as was common in Benedictine houses. This arrangement meant that the Cistercians could accommodate the kitchen on the southern range and that all the necessary buildings could be accessed from the cloister. The refectory at Roche was a single-storey building and extended at first as far as the north bank of the Maltby Beck. In the late twelfth / early thirteenth century the building was continued across the river by a bridge, part of which has now collapsed. Entrance to the refectory was via a central doorway in the cloister.

Remains of the refectory at Roche Abbey
©Ray Thompson
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Remains of the refectory at Roche Abbey

The monks ate in the refectory once a day in winter and twice in summer when a light supper was served to sustain the community through the longer days. Drinks, such as those served after Nones, were taken in the refectory. While fish and vegetables were eaten here no meat was allowed as the General Chapter prohibited this to all but the sick. Meat was later permitted once or twice a week but was to be served in a separate room, the misericord.

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It is not certain where the misericord and meat kitchen were at Roche, but they may have been situated to the south of the monks’ dormitory where an extension was built in the fourteenth century.