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Kirkstall Abbey: 08 Refectory , Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°49′17″N, 1°36′23″W)
Kirkstall Abbey: 08 Refectory
SE 260 362
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now West Yorkshire
  • Rita Wood
01 Apr, 09 Apr, 23 Apr 2010, 07 Mar 2017

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=2292.

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Feature Sets

The refectory, or frater, was the main space on the S side of the monks’ cloister. The functions of the adjacent spaces were associated with that function: the Warming Room to the E, and the kitchen to the W. These have separate reports (Kirkstall Abbey nos. 07 and 10). Evidence has been found of a free-standing laver basin somewhere in the SE part of the cloister, in use before the arcaded lavatorium was installed on the cloister wall in the 13thc (Wrathmell 2005).

The first refectory ran E-W; in the late 12thc it was altered to run N-S, and the kitchen and warming rooms were extended into the space. In the 15thc the eating arrangements of the monks were altered again by converting the ground floor into a misericord or meat refectory and by inserting an upper floor for the standard vegetarian diet. Consequently there is little left of the interior of either of the 12thc refectories. There are no vault corbels, and no reading pulpit as survives at Fountains (Hope and Bilson 1907).

Looking S from the cloister, the pair of large plain round-headed windows probably lit the second refectory. Between the remains of the lavatorium arcade on the L and the open doorway to the kitchen on the R, are three doorways. The tall blocked doorway on the R, near the doorway to the kitchen, is the entrance to the first refectory: this doorway is described in the report for the Kitchen. The two doorways on the L were constructed largely from old stonework in the 15thc when forming the two refectories.

The ground floor misericord used the open doorway on the L; the upper floor was reached by the smaller, blocked doorway (Hope and Bilson 1907, 46, 50-53; figs. 40 and 44; Wrathmell 2005). These two doorways probably contain parts of the doorway to the second refectory, which would have been in the centre below the pair of windows.

For History, Comments and full Bibliography, see report Kirkstall Abbey: 01 Church.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses

W. H. St. John Hope and J. Bilson, Architectural description of Kirkstall Abbey, Thoresby Society, vol. 16, 1907, 46, 50-53; figs. 40 and 44.

S. Wrathmell, Leeds, Pevsner Architectural Guides, London 2005, 279.