The chapter house was elaborate chamber used daily by the monks for meetings, during which the rule governing the strict life of the abbey was read.
Each morning, the meeting started with the reading of a chapter from the Rule of St. Benedict, the supreme guide for monastic life. The Cistercian order had been founded in 1098 with the specific intention of a closer adherence to this Rule.
According to the Rule, monastic life was very simple, based around a daytime routine of study, prayer and manual work. At night, the monks slept in a large communal dormitory.
Cistercian monks rejected all sources of luxury and wealth. They wore undyed coarse wool habits, giving rise to their popular name, the ‘white monks’. They also rejected undershirts and breeches, survived on a meagre vegetarian diet and followed a strict rule of silence.
To keep away from the temptations of the rest of the world, Cistercian abbeys were built in remote locations.
Although hard to imagine today, Netley was once such an isolated place, largely surrounded by dense wood and heathland.
The text and pictures on this page are derived from the 'Heritage Unlocked' series of guidebooks published in 2004. We intend to review, update and enhance the content in the near future as part of the Portico project, whose objective is to provide information on the history, significance, research background and sources for all English Heritage properties.