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The Monastery Faces Loch Ness
This building is by far the largest on the site and looks out over Loch Ness. It comprises four floors and a basement over most of its length and is certainly a most interesting structure.
Along half of its length on the left hand end (looking from the cloisters) was a basement which contained the printing machines of the Abbey Press, a small monastic publishing company which once even produced a Loch Ness Monster booklet!
On the ground floor there were three major rooms. The monks’ refectory at the left hand end, the monastic library in the centre and the calefactory at the right hand end. Between the library and calefactory was the court of arches – a four way crossroads in the cloisters with massive support columns for the monastic bell tower.
On the first floor and second floors were the monks cells. These were actually much larger than may be imagined, being in the order of four and a half metres square. The cells were furnished with a chair, writing desk, wardrobe and simple bed. At the left end of the second floor were the monks’ bathrooms and showers and access to the Brothers’ wing through a winding corridor which also led to the Abbot’s chapel which can currently be seen from the bastion wall area at the rear of the abbey.
Beside the notice board in the Court of Arches, there was a pull cord and this was pulled to announce each of the monks’ offices. These began with Morning Office (Matins) at 6am; Mass at 9.15am; Midday Office at 12.40pm; Vespers at 6pm and then Compline at 8pm after which there was silence until Matins the next day. This daily routine was only broken by allowing a long-lie on Sundays when Matins was put back to 7am!
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Pictures by Mark Sisley Photographer & owner Boys Dormitory