The Refectory was once the monks’ dining room.
The Refectory is largely late thirteenth or early fourteenth century, with the fine hammer beam roof added in 1939, but the scalloped doorway from the cloister is Norman and there must therefore have been an earlier refectory which was replaced by the present room. Here the monks ate all their meals in silence, while one of them read suitably uplifting texts aloud from the beautiful built-in pulpit, perhaps the finest surviving example in the country.
The early twentieth-century east window shows the Saxon monarchs and saints associated with the early history of the monastery, set in an orderly grid, with St Werburgh in the centre holding the Cathedral in her hand. The west, or Creation, window was installed in 2001 to celebrate the millennium and is a joyful riot of colour illustrating the six days of the Creation in the upper lights, with modern commentaries in the lower, such as the cityscape.
The tapestry on the west wall shows a scene from the life of the apostle Paul. Its colours colours have darkened over time – though it has recently benefited from some costly restoration – but it has an interesting history. It was made at the Mortlake tapestry works in south London in the seventeenth century, after a design by the Italian High Renaissance artist Raphael.
For further information about the Refectory, purchase a copy of the Cathedral guide book, from the Gift Shop.
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