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unroofed space forming part of a religious establishment and surrounded by the various buildings or by enclosing walls. Generally, it is provided on all sides with a vaulted passageway consisting of continuous colonnades or arcades opening onto a court. The cloister is a characteristic part of monastic institutions (see abbeyabbey,
monastic house, especially among Benedictines and Cistercians, consisting of not less than 12 monks or nuns ruled by an abbot or abbess. Many abbeys were originally self-supporting. In the Benedictine expansion after the 8th cent.
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), serving both as sheltered access to the various units of the group and for the recreation of the monks. Cloisters became an important architectural form in the 11th cent., a period marked by active monastery building all over Europe. They were not limited to monastic houses, but were built in some English colleges, as at Oxford and Eton, and in some churches, mostly in England and Spain. In N France many of the original cloisters have disappeared, but superb Romanesque cloisters remain in S France, Italy and Sicily, and Spain. In the typical examples the arches are supported by delicate columns, generally coupled, the elaborate capitals of the paired columns sometimes being interlaced. The 13th-century cloisters of two Roman churches, St. John Lateran and St. Paul's outside the Walls, are notable Romanesque examples, distinguished by twin spiral columns inlaid with rich glass mosaics. Of the Gothic period, the English cloisters are especially fine, as at Salisbury, Wells, and Westminster Abbey. The Renaissance cloisters are confined chiefly to Italy and Spain. In the New World the Spanish colonists began in the 16th cent. to build simple cloisters, generally arcaded, in Mexico, Cuba, and California.


A square court surrounded by an open arcade, a covered walk around a courtyard, or the whole courtyard.


A covered walk surrounding a court, usually linking a church to other buildings of a monastery.


1. a covered walk, usually around a quadrangle in a religious institution, having an open arcade or colonnade on the inside and a wall on the outside
2. a place of religious seclusion, such as a monastery
References in periodicals archive ?
A half-century later I'm at another cloister, kneeling in the public chapel facing into the obscured space beyond the grille where a group of nuns is singing vespers.
In between galleries, one can visit lovely gardens, including the Bonnefort Cloister Herb Garden, which contains more than 250 species of plants and herbs-including poisonous varieties, properly identified-cultivated in the middle ages.
Intended as a "friendly little inn" in 1928, The Cloister is a Mediterranean-style resort with an oasis of terracotta roofs, sunlit gardens and superb old-world elegance.
A branch of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, itself housing one of the world's greatest museum collections, The Cloisters is devoted to the art and architecture of Medieval Europe.
The success of the De claustro animae is attested by the high number of manuscripts in which it survives, and its influence on the later development of the cloister allegory is considerable.
Inside the cloister were some of the most accomplished women of their day.
Cloister Mews is a new development of 10 apartments built by Warwickshire-based firm DJL Construction on the former site of St Barbara's Church in Palmerston Road.
Holy Trinity Parish Church in North Ormesby welcomed the Bishop of Whitby to a special service last weekend to commemorate its new cloister garden.
Cloister glazing opened an even richer new field for these glass painters, in which narrative systems--placing one scene after another sequentially--reached a peak of popularity.
Cloister, who had won the 1893 Aintree National carrying a record weight of 12st 7lb, and who won in a record time and a record distance of 40 lengths, won the Welsh equivalent in 1896 before a crowd of 40,000 race-goers who had turned up to see Cloister take on the 1892 Aintree hero Father O'Flynn.
159) of the Journal of the British Archaeological Association contains 10 essays on the medieval cloister in England and Wales, seven of which were drawn from a conference held at Rewley House, Oxford, in April of 2004.
The word cloister is derived from the Latin claustrum, which originally meant a lock, and later referred to a locked door or gate.