digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















The refectory of the Convent of Christ, Tomar, Portugal.

A refectory (also frater, frater house, fratery) is a dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools, and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries. It derives from the Latin reficere "to remake or restore," via Late Latin refectorium, which means "a place one goes to be restored."

Refectories and monastic culture[edit]

Summer Refectory in the Grand Masters' Palace, Malbork Castle.

Communal meals are the times when all monks of an institution are together. Diet and eating habits differ somewhat by monastic order, and more widely by schedule. The Benedictine rule is illustrative.

The Rule of St Benedict orders two meals. Dinner is provided for year-round; supper is also served from late spring to early fall, except for Wednesdays and Fridays. The diet originally consisted of simple fare: two dishes, with fruit as a third course if available. The food was simple, with the meat of mammals forbidden to all but the sick. Moderation in all aspects of diet is the spirit of Benedict's law. Meals are eaten in silence, facilitated sometimes by hand signals. A single monk might read from the Scriptures or writings of the saints aloud during the meals.

Size, structure, and placement[edit]

Refectories vary in size and dimension, based primarily on wealth and size of the monastery, as well as when the room was built. They share certain design features. Monks eat at long benches; important officials sit at raised benches at one end of the hall. A lavabo, or large basin for hand-washing usually stands outside the refectory.

Tradition also fixes other factors. In England, the refectory is generally built on an undercroft (perhaps in an allusion to the upper room where the Last Supper reportedly took place) on the side of the cloister opposite the church. Benedictine models are traditionally generally laid out on an east-west axis, while Cistercian models lay north-south.

Norman refectories could be as large as 160 feet (49 m) long by 35 feet (11 m) wide (as is that in the abbey at Norwich). Even relatively early refectories might have windows, but these became larger and more elaborate in the high medieval period. The refectory at Cluny Abbey was lit through thirty-six large glazed windows. The twelfth-century abbey at Mont Saint-Michel had six windows, five feet wide by twenty feet high.

Eastern Orthodox[edit]

Trapeza (refectory church) at Kiev Pechersk Lavra.

In Eastern Orthodox monasteries, the Refectory (Greek: τράπεζα, trapeza) is considered a sacred place, and even in some cases is constructed as a full church with Altar and Iconostasis. Some services are intended to be performed specifically in the Trapeza. There is always at least one Icon with a lampada (oil lamp) kept burning in front of it. The service of the Lifting of the Panagia is performed at the end of meals. During Bright Week, this service is replaced with the Lifting of the Artos. In some monasteries, the Ceremony of Forgiveness at the beginning of Great Lent is performed in the Trapeza. All food served in the Trapeza should be blessed, and for that purpose, holy water is often kept in the kitchen.

Modern usage[edit]

As well as continued use of the historic monastic meaning, the word refectory is often used in a modern context to refer to a café or cafeteria that is open to the public—including non-worshipers such as tourists—attached to a cathedral or abbey. This usage is particularly prevalent in Church of England buildings, which use the takings to supplement their income.[1]

Many universities in the UK also call their student cafeteria or dining facilities the refectory. The term is rare at American colleges, although Brown University calls its main dining hall the Sharpe Refectory (nicknamed the "Ratty").[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Sharpe Refectory (the Ratty)". Brown Dining Services. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 


  • Adams, Henry, Mont Saint-Michel and Chartres. New York: Penguin, 1986.
  • Fernie, E. C. The Architecture of Norman England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Harvey, Barbara. Living and Dying in England, 1100-1450. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.
  • Singman, Jeffrey. Daily Life in Medieval Europe. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.
  • Webb, Geoffrey. Architecture in Britain: the Middle Ages. Baltimore: Penguin, 1956.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refectory — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1 videos found


https://youtube.com/devicesupport http://m.youtube.com

1 videos found

5614 news items

New York Times (blog)

New York Times (blog)
Tue, 26 May 2015 13:03:45 -0700

The contemporary refectory in the heart of the city's under-resourced Greco neighborhood will host a coterie of Bottura's most charitable colleagues, beginning with Eleven Madison Park's Daniel Humm and former Chez Panise chef Seen Lippert, eager to ...

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Fri, 29 May 2015 08:41:37 -0700

... on special display during the World Expo; and, of course, the mural of “The Last Supper” in Santa Maria delle Grazie, “miraculously” saved from Allied bombing during World War II and from Napoleon's troops, who used the convent's refectory as a ...

Ancient Origins

Ancient Origins
Sat, 30 May 2015 06:52:30 -0700

They also broke their rule by eating meat every day in the refectory. Three lay women were also accommodated at the priory, and they did sleep in the nunnery, one of them paying 8 pence a week and the other two 4 pence a week. In 1517, the reputation ...

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Thu, 28 May 2015 08:57:29 -0700

At his Ateliers Jean Prouvé, he folded, bent and corrugated sheet metal to produce portable structures that were both economical and functional—four men could erect a 388-square-foot home in a day—as well as refectory tables, dormitory shelving, desk ...

Columbus Monthly (blog)

Columbus Monthly (blog)
Thu, 28 May 2015 14:56:15 -0700

Jon Christensen reviews The Refectory and heaps praise upon the whole Dover sole ($15.95): “It had been breaded extremely lightly and deftly sauteed in butter, just enough to cook it through and give it that hot buttery taste without drying it out or ...
Fri, 29 May 2015 05:11:15 -0700

... the local government is committed to training the local population. With capacity to host 128 students, infrastructure comprises bedrooms, refectory, laundry, residence for the headmaster, gymnasium, amphitheatre, sport court and school with 24 ...

Condé Nast Traveler

Condé Nast Traveler
Tue, 26 May 2015 10:37:30 -0700

The rooms (though lovely in their authenticity) and the food (though delicious and served communally at a large refectory table) have, by the Bakers' design, always been secondary to the club—which is why the place attracts diehard players and fans ...


Tue, 26 May 2015 00:30:00 -0700

Our architectural and curatorial proposal is based on a simple layout on tables which creates an atmosphere of refectory and market. People can watch visual statements and read key texts about different consumption habits and their consequences for our ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight