Brother Thomas at Tintern Abbey

The daily life and duties of a Cistercian monk at Tintern Abbey in the 14th CenturyIMG_1050 copyBrother Thomas told visitors all about his life as a monk at Tintern Abbey, including his daily duties, eating habits and hygiene. The sympathetic and helpful brother offered people three tours a day and he provided inside information about the monks’ rituals and responsibilities.

As the cellarer of Tintern Abbey, he told all that there is to know about the workings of the abbey, his fellow monks, the lay brothers and other ‘less religious’ people. The cellarer or bursar  acted as chief purveyor of all foodstuffs to the monastery and as general steward. In recent times the name procurator is often found used for this official.

Visitors also learnt about the daily life of the monks at the abbey, including their monastic duties as well as the numerous religious services they would have to attend throughout the day. Brother Thomas – otherwise known as Leslie Shepperd from the Forest of Dean provided educational opportunity to the visitors through the process of acting in the role of a monk from the early 14th Century.

Mr Shepperd, a PhD student with Birmingham University said: “Tintern Abbey is a fantastic message from the past. It says to us, Look at what we did, look at what we were capable of doing then and look at what people are able to emulate. I am here guiding people on an exploration of what it was like to live at Tintern Abbey and I communicate information that puts flesh onto the bones of history.”

An area of outstanding beauty complemented by this outstanding beauty in stone.  The chants of countless monks echo through the masonry here. Despite the shell of this grand structure being open to the skies, it remains the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales. Although the abbey church was rebuilt under the patronage of Roger Bigod, lord of nearby Chepstow Castle, in the late 13th century, the monastery retains its original design.

Tintern was only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales. The present-day remains are a mixture of building works covering a 400-year period between 1131 and 1536. Very little remains of the first buildings but you will marvel at the vast windows and later decorative details displayed in the walls, doorways and soaring archways.The lands of the abbey were divided into agricultural units or granges, worked on by lay brothersIMG_0004 2.jpg

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