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Kirkstall Abbey: location

Kirkstall Abbey: history
Sources
Foundation
Consolidation
Rise and Fall
Dissolution

Kirkstall Abbey: buildings
Precinct
Church
Cloister
Sacristy
Library
Chapter House
Parlour
Day Room
Dormitory
Reredorters
Warming House
Refectory
Kitchen
Lay Brothers' Range
Abbots'Lodging
Infirmary
Guesthouse
Gatehouse

Kirkstall Abbey: Lands

Kirkstall Abbey: people

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View Movies Kirkstall Abbey: the cloister

Plan of Kirkstall abbey showing the location of the cloister(1/2)

At Kirkstall, as in all Cistercian houses, the cloister stood at the centre of the precinct, where it was sheltered from noise and disruption. Access to outsiders was restricted and silence was observed, making this an appropriate atmosphere for meditation and prayer. The cloister was made up of a grassy area surrounded by four roofed walkways. Several stones from the arches which supported the cloister have survived and can be seen in the Abbey House Museum.

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

The cloister was at the heart of liturgical ceremony and ritual. Processions, such as those on Palm Sunday, Ascension Day and Assumption Day started off in the church and then entered the cloister through a doorway in the southern aisle of the nave, and down a series of convex semi-circular steps. The entire community participated in these processions, which were led by the abbot or prior; the monks, novices and lay-brothers followed, walking in pairs. The party stopped first at the eastern range, then at the refectory and finally at the western range. The entire community participated in these processions, which were led by the abbot or prior who was followed by the rest of the community walking in pairs. At the Blessing of the Water on Sundays, one of the monastic officers sprinkled water and salt around the cloister in an act of exorcism, while the community offered blessings in the church.

The cloister was also the setting for the weekly Maundy, the ritual washing of the monks’ feet which took place in the south of the cloister each Saturday afternoon between the Collation reading and Compline, namely, c. 3.30 pm or 4 pm in winter, and c. 7pm in summer.

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