Photographer's Note

This is my fourth post from Rievaulx Abbey and as well as the church, there are extensive ruins of many of the other buildings necessary to the order. I had to abandon my tripod for this as I couldn’t get a good view using it as I had to lean into the space, which had a barrier, but f10 doesn’t give a bad DOF.

This photo is taken with the cloister behind me, from what was the refectory door looking down on the undercroft. The refectory is where the monks ate their one meal a day, or two in summer when waking hours were longer. It was on the second level here, where you can see the signs on the walls where the floor would have been. Evidence points to the undercroft being used as a laundry at some time. According to the Benedictine law followed by the Cistercians, meals had to be eaten in silence, whilst listening to a reading from the pulpit which was set into a recess on the west wall and reached by steps. You can make out the recess and broken stones where it would have been on the right. There is a photo in the WS of where I was standing to take this.

A little bit about daily life:- When they were not attending one of the eight services in the church, the monks had to work. Again, Benedictine law decreed that all abbeys had to be self sufficient instead of relying on rents and tithes. At Rievaulx self-sufficiency was so successful they became one of the wealthiest abbeys in England. The many enterprises undertaken were run with business-like efficiency. Many of the buildings are now buried under the present village, but they had extensive gardens and orchards nearby, along with a bakehouse, a kilnhouse, a brewhouse for the hop-free ale they drank, stables, a corn mill, a tannery for leather-making, a fulling mill for bleaching the woolen cloth they made for their clothing (which traditionally had to be white) and a water-powered forge. Outside the immediate area of the abbey, they also controlled fisheries, worked mines and quarries, and had farm estates, or granges as they were known. Rievaulx had 20 granges of between 370 and 500 acres, where more than half the land was pasture for sheep; much of their income was from selling wool. They also grew crops and bred horses and cattle. The lay brothers ran the granges and returned to the abbey on Sundays and feast days. Later, around the 1300s as there became fewer lay brothers, the granges were rented out to tenant farmers.

More information here, here and here

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Additional Photos by Kath Featherstone (feather) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7646 W: 399 N: 14391] (51130)
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