Reredorter

Reredorter

The reredorter was an important room or building in a mediaeval monastery in Western Europe, although European monastic orders carried this design to their New World destinations as well. Most frequently attached to the south end or the east side of the monks' dormitory on the east of the main cloister, the reredorter was a communal latrine for the monks. The seats were regularly on the first floor of the building (so as to allow direct access from the dormitory) and the waste was usually carried away by a stream or conduit, or by a river. Often sophisticated water engineering - as for instance at Cîteaux Abbey or Roche Abbey, and the Carmelite Desierto de Los Leones in Mexico, was used to ensure both that the privies remained fresh and that the effluent did not pollute water needed for cooking and washing.

In some monasteries there were two reredorters, one for the monks and one for the lay brothers. The lay brothers’ reredorter was most often to the west of the cloister, attached to their dormitory in a similar way to that of the monks.

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