Things to See and Do


The Cloister

Today the Cloister is still enclosed on all four sides and has a unique atmosphere. The monks spent much of their time here, and you can see a trefoil headed arched recess which marked the abbot's seat during the daily spiritual reading - a rare example in Britain.

In the part of the cloister which later became the farmhouse, you can see two fireplaces, one with a bread oven intact. A partition wall here has been partly exposed, showing its wattle and daub construction.

Reconstruction of the Refectory at Cleeve Abbey

The Refectory

Originally the dining hall for the monks, this spacious room has a magnificent carved oak roof. The main trusses are supported by corbels decorated with an angel holding a shield and the side of the trusses decorated with fifty small trefoil headed arches.

Where the roof timbers intersect, there are intricately carved bosses, each one different. Looking down into the room are twenty two projecting carved angels connected by a carved vine trail. Hidden from view is a secret - The Green Man - perhaps a maker's mark.

The Dorter House at Cleeve Abbey

The Dormitory

One of the finest existing monastic dormitories left in Britain, it is a single open room where the monks would have slept. At one end, is the doorway to the night stairs and at the other, is the doorway to the latrine. You can sit on the window seat with its decorative tiles and look at the roof which dates from the 17th or 18th century.

The Chapter House at Cleeve Abbey

The Chapter House

Traditionally where the monks met on a daily basis to discuss business, you can still see evidence of its use such as the lead socket for a reading lantern. Look up to the curved ceiling at the traces of painted masonry and at the end of the room, there are the pointed windows divided by elegant columns giving you a sense of the room's faded beauty.

Painted Chamber at Cleeve Abbey

The Painted Chamber

Look through the protective hatchway into this room and you can see a large late 15th-century wall painting on the left hand wall depicting the story of a man crossing a bridge from the Gesta Romanorum - can you see the lion and horned dragon?

By the door of the gallery leading to the Painted Chamber is the head of a monk - graffiti from medieval times.

Family sitting on the grass

A Great Day Out

Take the West Somerset Steam Railway to Washford and it is a short walk to the abbey - remember to ask about the discount offer for abbey visitors on the railway.

On a sunny day, you might like to bring a picnic to enjoy in the grounds, whilst soaking up the lovely views and the sound of the nearby stream.

Little ones will enjoy using the story bag of Brother Cedric and the Missing Sheep, and looking out for the fun monk facts around the abbey. You can also try tile stamping in the Education Room and dress up in monks robes!

Tile at Cleeve

Conserving the Tiles

As part of an English Heritage conservation project, the medieval pavement at Cleeve Abbey was given a new lease of life in early 2016. We constructed a new shelter to cover the medieval pavement - ensuring that the rare tiles are protected for years to come. Find out more.

Exterior of Cleeve Abbey on a clear day

Monastic Music

The monks at Cleeve took a vow of silence, but could also fill the abbey with atmospheric plainchant. On weekends from 21st July to the end of August (11am - 4pm) you can step into this life by listening to the recorded sounds of monastic music in the Cloister. You can also put on a monks robe and take the Vow of Silence Challenge!

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