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Around the east, south and west sides of the outer court were ranged the reredorter (lavatory block), a workshop, the infirmary and the kitchen. This would have been the workplace of most of the priory servants under the supervision of the canons.
Entry was from the west through a gateway beneath a bridge (16) between the kitchen and the frater (refectory or dining room). There was also a passage or slype) leading out to the east between the reredorter and the workshop (17)
(Figure 8). Another passage connects the northeast corner of the court with the cloister. Square holes high in the refectory wall on the north side of the court may have been for a covered walkway around the court, similar to that around the cloister though perhaps not paved (not shown in Figure 4).
The prior had overall responsibility for administration of the priory. However, this had to be combined with numerous other roles including senior church official, judge, lord of parliament and host to important guests. Routine daily administration was almost certainly left in the hands of a sub-prior, himself in charge of a range of officials known as obedientiaries.
It is unlikely that there were ever more than eight or nine canons at Kells. An average-sized monastery might have had about fifteen obedientiaries, twice the total complement of canons here. So, apart from their daily worship and any parochial duties they had, the canons were probably full-time administrators! Routine daily tasks would have been left to a retinue of servants employed by the priory.
Obedientiaries had a wide range of duties. The sacristan (or sacrist) was in charge of the church and its repair and security.
With responsibility for furniture, altar vessels, vestments and other valuables, the sacristan commonly slept in the church. The precentor had charge of prayer and hymn books, the choir, church services and a library. Perhaps the most important official was the cellarer. He was in charge of the buildings, lands and revenues of the priory. He had responsibility for the kitchens, bakery, brewery and for provisioning the priory with food and clothing. Commonly he was assisted by a sub-cellarer. Kitchener, refectorer, infirmarer, hosteller and almoner had respective charge of meals, refectory and lavabo, infirmary and patients, guests and guesthouse, and charitable contributions to the poor. The half dozen canons under the sub-prior must have divided these duties between them, each with responsibility for more than one.

Priory servants

The small number of canons in most Austin priories is almost certainly why they employed far more servants than most, averaging about three for every canon. With a complement of only eight or nine canons at Kells, there may have been up to thirty servants working for the priory. Between the Precinct and the farms and mills, a significant proportion of the population of Kells must have been employed by the priory. Most of them probably lived with their families in Kells, but some may have lived in the priory, perhaps in dwellings like those illustrated in the southwest Precinct in
Figure 4.
Priory servants are likely to have included chamberlains, butlers, bakers, brewers, cooks, table servants, bath attendants, scullions, washerwomen, lamplighters, porters, gardeners, grave-diggers and ground-keepers among their number. In addition there was probably at least one personal servant for the prior.

The Reredorter (18)

The reredorter (or domus necessarium)
projects eastwards from the east range of the outer court. Its location was dictated by the course of the main priory drain which runs beneath the outer court at Kells. The drain provided a constant flow of water for flushing the reredorter. Typically, a reredorter was arranged on two floors with lavatory cubicles back-to-back or along one wall of the upper floor and the drain occupying the lower floor. Kells reredorter may only have been a single storey building (as in
Figure 4). Recent excavation has demonstrated a ground level layout comprising two passages on either side of an enclosed central space over the main drain.
The south passage is divided by a wall across the middle and is entered through a doorway at the west end of the eastern section. A doorway in the dividing wall accessed the western section
(Figure 8). This was probably a lavatory for servants and lay-workers since the only entrance is from the outside and close to the passage from the outer court. The north passage is also divided centrally but the western section is further divided to provide an entrance chamber at the west end with an outside door. Internal doors from the entrance chamber lead into what was presumably the canons' day-lavatory on one side and the claustral Warming Room on the other.
The only indication of an upper storey on the reredorter is provided by the totally enclosed eastern section of the north passage. This may have extended up to a night-lavatory coming off the first floor dormitory. A small chamber at the southeast corner of the Warming Room has a recess adjacent to the priory drain in one corner, giving it the appearance of a more private lavatory -perhaps for the prior's personal use!

The main priory drain (19)

A steady flow of water from the millstream entered the main priory drain south of the Infirmary. It flowed beneath a crudely vaulted tunnel under the west wall of the infirmary before following a curved course beneath the outer court towards the reredorter (Figure 8). The drain is over one metre deep and dry-walled. Its course beneath the outer court is paved with stone slabs and has raised stone curbs on each side. From the reredorter the drain flowed eastward, exiting the Precinct beneath the postern gate (not quite as shown in Figure 4!), and into King's River.

A Workshop (20)

The room forming the southern end of east range is entered from the passage to the north (Figure 8). Evidence from recent excavations suggests that the room served as a general workshop for maintaining the priory buildings.
Only foundations remain of the east and south walls, but a little more of the west wall still stands. The west wall had a two-light window at its south end, and possibly a second window (or a door) at the opposite end. The south wall of the workshop is recessed, probably for another window. Excavation of the room in 1980 identified two hearths, one at the centre and one at the southern end. A charcoal pit containing small lumps of lead was associated with the central hearth, making it likely that one function of the workshop was the repair and manufacture of priory windows. There must have been openings in the roof to allow smoke to escape from the hearths
(Figure 4).
Excavation has also shown that part of the outer court was used for working roofing slates and that the southeast corner, between workshop and infirmary, was used as a dump for broken jugs and pitchers.

(c) Daniel Tietzsch-Tyler