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View Movies The abbot’s lodgings

Plan of Kirkstall abbey showing the location of the abbot's lodging(1/1)

The abbot originally slept in the dormitory with the rest of the community (as stipulated in the twelfth-century customary of the Order) but later had separate lodgings and the abbot’s house at Kirkstall, which dates from c. 1230, is one of the earliest and finest surviving examples. It was a three-storey building situated to the east of the monks’ latrine-block (reredorter). The walls were plastered, the floors wooden.(1) While the basement of the house would have been used for servants, the hall on the first floor, with its lobby and chamber, would have functioned as a reception area for guests. The hall was accessed by a stone staircase and lit by large windows, each of which had a stone window-seat.

The staircase of the abbot's lodging
© Abbey House Museum
The staircase of the abbot's lodging  Abbey House Museum  Abbey House Museum

A fireplace in the north wall dates from the fifteenth century but may have replaced an earlier one. The abbot’s private living rooms were located on the upper level, and would have been reached by a wooden staircase extending from the first floor. This upper storey comprised of a large room, similar in size to the hall below, a lobby and a chamber with garderobe. A fifteenth-century fireplace heated the large room and there were also window-seats and screens here providing privacy and comfort. The abbot, and whoever stayed here, would have had easy access to the monks’ latrine-block, and the infirmary kitchen was conveniently positioned to provide food.(2)