The Cellary             

The Cellary was the storeroom of the monastery, and was used for storing most everything used to upkeep the house, from salt to beeswax for the altar candles.  The Cellarer was the official in charge of procuring almost all that was needed to run the ‘household’ of the monastery smoothly, including all the food. 

The duties of the Cellarer, according to F.A. Gasquet in English Monastic Life, were:

Besides the main part of this office as caterer to the community, on the cellarer devolved many other duties.  In fact, the general management of the establishment, except what was specially assigned to other officials, or given to any individual by the superior, was in his hands.  In this way besides the question of food and drink, the cellarer had to see to fuel, the carriage of goods, the general repairs of the house, and the purchases of all materials, such as wood, iron, glass, nails, etc. 


Some of the Obedientiary accounts (Officer's accounts) which have survived show the multitude and variety of the cellarer’s cares.  At one time, on one such Roll, beyond the ordinary expenses there is noted the purchase of three hundred and eighty quarters of coal for the kitchen, the carriage of one hundredweight of wax from London, the process of making torches and candles, the purchase of cotton for the wicks, the employment of women to make oatmeal, the purchase of “blanket-cloth” for jelly strainers, and the employment of “the pudding wife” on great feast days to make the pastry.  He had, of course, frequently to visit the granges and manors under his care, to look that the overseer knew his business and did not neglect it, to see that the servants and labourers did not misconduct themselves, and that the shepherds spent the nights watching with their flocks, and did not wander off to any neighbouring tavern.  Besides this he was charged to see that the granary doors were sound and the locks in good order, and in the time of threshing out the corn he was to keep  watch over the men engaged in the work and the women who were winnowing.


Copyright (c) Richenda Fairhurst and, 2007  All rights reserved. No commercial permissions are granted.  Keep author, source and copyright permissions with this article.