The groin–vaulted cellar room at St Nicholas Priory

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The groin–vaulted cellar room at St Nicholas Priory

This room with three bays is probably the oldest piece of standing architecture in Devon and Cornwall, apart from ruined fragments. It probably dates to c. 1100. At the centre of the room are two drum piers which support a groin-vault on each side of the room. The bays of the vaults are separated by arches of volcanic stone and white Triassic sandstone. This cellar would have been used for the storage of food and drink: it was well known in the early middle ages that a stone vaulted room would keep a much more even temperature than one simply with a wooden ceiling. The room would have been looked after by the cellarer, an important official in a Norman monastery who would have ordered and regulated the Priory’s supply of food and drink.

Acknowledgments: Exeter City Museums