The refectory was one of the first buildings
constructed at Kirkstall and was completed during Alexanders abbacy, i.e. before 1182. It stood on the southern range and was
originally placed on an east-west axis but in the early thirteenth
century it was rebuilt along a north-south alignment. By changing
the layout of the refectory in this way the kitchen could be accommodated
in the southern range and accessed directly from the cloister. The
first refectory at Kirkstall measured c. 21m x 10m internally; after
the rebuilding it extended over 30m and had a tiled floor, remains
of which can be seen. The roof was timbered and covered with flagstones.
The monks ate in the refectory once a day in
winter and twice in summer when a light supper supplemented dinner
to sustain the community through the longer days. The monks also
entered the refectory for drinks such as those served after Nones.
Fish and vegetables were eaten here but meat was prohibited by the
it was later permitted once or twice a week but was to be served
in a separate room, the misericord.
By the fifteenth century there was a two-storey refectory at Kirkstall
the misericord was situated in the lower level; the
main refectory was located on the upper level and accessed by stone