The Cloister is the covered walkway in the cathedral, with windows on one side opening up to a grassed area called the Cloister Garth.
The Cloister is central to other buildings in the cathedral, with doors leading to the Chapter House, Refectory and Nave. Monks spent many hours in the Cloister, reading and studying manuscripts.
Where is this space?
The Cloister is South of the Nave. It can be reached through the south door, college walk and through the restaurant and café.
How is it used today?
The Cloister is open to walk around and lead to other spaces in the cathedral, including the Chapter House, Deanery, Refectory and Great Kitchen.
The Cloister in the medieval monastery
The Cloister was a hub of daily life for monks in the monastery, with monks studying, meditating and exercising in the Cloister. On the north side, each bay was divided into three studies overlooking the grass, and each monk would go into his study after dinner to Evensong to read.
Built in the late 12th century by Bishop Hugh Le Puiset, the addition of the Cloister increased the monastic precinct of the cathedral.
The stone in the Cloister Garth, the grassed area in the centre of the Cloister, is the remains from a water fountain, where monks used to wash themselves before eating a meal. This dates from the early 15th century and is made from ‘Teesdale marble’, extracted from quarries at Egglestone Abbey.
Changes over the past 500 years
The Eastern side of the Cloister may have had stained glass windows, and it is said that when the sun shone on them, it looked like a house was on fire. The side used as a scriptorium would have featured clear glass, to allow for clear reading and writing of manuscripts.
The Cloister was remodelled to what we see today in the early 15th century, and the tracery later renovated between 1764 and 1769.
Recent uses as a filming location
Over 20 years ago, various locations across the cathedral were used in the filming of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the most recognisable of those locations was the Cloister.Find out more about Durham Cathedral as a filming location
Visitors with a hearing impairment
Information within the cloister is provided by printed interpretation panels or guide books which can be purchased at the visitor desk.
Wheelchair users and visitors with limited mobility
The Cloister is fully accessible. There is ramped or level access throughout and access platforms link the ground floor to the restaurant, shop and public facilities.
There is seating for visitors throughout the Cloister.
The lighting levels in the Cloister vary depending on the seasons and time of day. This is due to the open nature of the space which could be described as outdoors/undercover. This also means that it can be cold at times, weather permitting.
The Cloister is an open space with window openings and a fresh breeze passing through. At busy times it can get very crowded and noisy.
Blind and partially sighted visitors
The lighting levels in the Cloister can range from bright to dim depending on the time of day. Low level lighting is fitted during the darker nights/winter months. Cathedral staff and volunteers are also happy to verbally interpret and answer questions for visitors.