A history of Halesworth, Suffolk, UK, through the ages.


Volume 2

Leiston Abbey

Monastery Routines

The life of most monasteries was based on prayer which was the pivot around which the routine of the monks revolved:-

2.00 AM - VIGILS 
The 'Night-Watch Office' when the monks would be wakened and troop down the night stair to sing the first service of the day. After this they would sit in the choir and pray until

4.00 AM - LAUDS
when Lauds would be sung. The word means 'praises' and afterwards the rule says 'then they shall retire to bed'. When the day is breaking, the small bell shall be rung softly, and the monks return to church for Prime.

6.00 AM - PRIME
a service with the morning mass and psalms for the dead. After which they go to the cloister to read or write before having their first meal of the day.

9.00 AM - TERCE
This is the office of the third hour which is followed by a sung mass. Then would follow the Chapter Meeting to discuss business matters, and work of some kind would be undertaken until noon.

The the church office was built around the High Mass - the most important service of the day. The main meal followed about 2.00 pm, after which the monks would continue with work or study until Vespers.

The evening service, as Vesper means 'evening star'. This was followed by a light supper of bread and fruit.

A service at dusk to complete the hours.

Silence was the general rule in Benedictine monasteries, but the monks were allowed to meet at set times for conversation in a special room called 'The Parlour' from the French word 'parIer' - to talk. Otherwise they were only allowed to talk about the work they were undertaking.

Leiston Abbey

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