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    The Dorter

Only a solitary round-headed window remains from the first floor dorter, recessed into the short stretch of wall above the chapter house. The row of rectangular holes above the stress-relieving arch in the chapter house are probably for dorter flooring.
Night-stairs descending into the south transept of the church, giving direct access to the church for night Offices, are partially preserved below the ruined doorway in the north wall of the dorter. Day-stairs probably descended from close to the centre of the room and there may have been access to an upper reredorter level from the south end of the room.
The dorter was originally designed as an open dormitory but private cubicles were introduced later in the middle ages. Each cubicle would have had a window, a desk and perhaps a bookshelf as well as a bed. In the beginning the prior slept here too, but at an early stage he would have taken larger and more private rooms across the cloister.

The South Range

The south wall of this range is supported by a massive buttress close to its mid-point. Within, the ground floor comprises three rooms and a passage
(31) between the cloister and the outer court at the eastern end. The frater or dining room occupied the whole upper floor.
There is a narrow slit window recessed into the south wall of the passage at the east end, and a door at the opposite end on the west side enters the eastern ground floor room
(32). A window in the south wall of this room, probably of two lights, has lost its frame. The central room (33) is entered from the outer court. If it had windows, they were in the south wall. Both of these chambers were probably store-rooms. The western room (34) could be entered from the cloister through one of two doorways. The western doorway had a wide and ornately moulded frame. The room is lit by a narrow slit window in the centre of the south wall and there was a doorway from the Precinct outside in the northwest corner (now walled-up).
A long narrow trough with a central drainage hole is set into the ambulatory wall alongside the western room. This was the lavabo
(35) (also lavatorium or lavatory) where the canons washed themselves and combed their beards in the morning and before their afternoon meal. A stone-lined soak-away was found during excavation in 1973. The fine doorway into the western room and the lavabo beside it suggest that the room housed the main staircase by which the prior and canons processed to and from the frater above. Square holes at different heights in the south wall may have been for timbers supporting the staircase.

The Frater

The first floor frater is preserved well enough to provide a complete picture of its original appearance. It was 17m long and was one of the brightest rooms in the priory during daylight hours. There was a large window 2m across in the west wall, of which the springer for tracery (a skeleton of ornate stone-work filling the arch) can be seen on the surviving south frame. Significant illumination also came from the south wall which contained five pairs of lancets -narrow windows with Gothic (pointed) arches. Four pairs are west of the shallow bay towards the east end of the room and the fifth is over the passage beyond it. The window west of the bay is perfectly preserved, but traces remain also of the one next to it and of the westernmost one and the one over the passage.
The broad bay towards the east end of the frater contains the traces of a wider window, probably a triple-lancet. This bay and its large window houses the pulpit from which one of the canons would read aloud while the others ate their main meal. The pulpit has a low parapet which is open at the east end for entry from the frater.
The prior and any important guests would have eaten from a table placed across the east end of the frater beneath a crucifix mounted on the east wall. Canons and poorer guests sat on benches and ate from tables running along the length of the rest of the room. At the west end, where the staircase from the cloister emerged, was the doorway from the kitchen block to the south (now partially filled-in). Square holes around the external face of this doorway suggest that the bridge between the frater and the kitchen was roofed (as in
Figure 4).
An external stone staircase
(36) gave access from beside the outer court entrance to the frater through a wide and now blocked west doorway. This doorway presumably allowed guests to enter the frater without violating the privacy of the cloister. A row of corbels and the many holes for timbers in the west wall indicate that a penthouse enclosed the stairs (Figure 4). The space beneath the stairs forms a vestibule for the outside entrance into the western ground floor room.

The West Range

The foundations of the west range tell us little about its former internal organization and nothing about its upper storey. A wide passage at the north end communicates between the Precinct and the cloister. A passage in this position commonly served also as an outer or public parlour (37) where community members could meet with lay people, perhaps family members.
The rest of the ground floor is a single room and would have been the main cellar or great store
(38) of the priory. Its main entrance was at the south end, providing direct and easy access for provisions entering the Precinct by the Inner Gatehouse. A doorway at the south end of the east wall gave access from the cloister. The west wall has three embayments for small windows at the north end. There was also a narrow room with a south-facing window built against the south end of the wall (shown as a low timber penthouse in Figure 4).
The upper floor might have served one or more of several functions. It probably contained the prior's rooms for a century or so, between his move from the dorter and his move back across the cloister and out to Prior's Tower. It is also likely to have been the guesthouse. There is no evidence now for the means of access to the upper floor. An outside entrance would have been necessary if guests lodged on this floor so perhaps the room built against the west wall actually housed a staircase.

(c) Daniel Tietzsch-Tyler