The Chapter House in the East Cloister was a meeting place where the monks gathered with the abbot to ‘hold chapter’: to pray, read from the rule of St Benedict, discuss the day’s business and when the abbot decided on punishments.
It dates from the 1250s and is one of the largest of its kind, octagonal in shape with tiered seating and an imposing central pillar fanning out to a vaulted ceiling.
Murals cover the walls showing scenes from the Book of Revelation and the Last Judgement.
The Chapter House was also the place where Parliament met in the 14th century before transferring across the road to the Palace of Westminster. After the monks left it was used as a store for State records until it was rescued and restored in Victorian times by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
In the covered entrance to the Chapter House you can see what is claimed to be the oldest door in Britain, believed to date back to the 1050s.
The biggest challenge we face is maintaining such a large physical collection of material within a historic building – believe it or not, there’s just not enough space for it all.