Kirkstall, like other Cistercian abbeys, would
have had several guesthouses within the precinct where visitors
could be received appropriately, without disturbing the community.
Most guests who visited Kirkstall were shown to a hospice which
probably lay to the north of the galilee porch, east of the inner
gatehouse. The exact location of this hospice is not known.(1)
Visitors were tended here by the guestmaster (or hosteller, as
he was known) and, at least in the early days, ate with the abbot.
Cistercian abbots at first dined in the
guesthouse with all visitors, but there is evidence that by
the late twelfth century some dined with more distinguished
guests in private chambers while the other visitors dined in
More distinguished guests, such as members of
the De Lacy family, the patrons of Kirkstall, stayed in a guesthouse
to the west of the inner court, which faced the abbey church. The
site of this guesthouse has been extensively excavated and much
is now known of the layout and phasing of the buildings here, which
date from the early thirteenth century, but probably replaced an
earlier timber structure.