Monks who demonstrated their ability within a monastery were given positions of responsibility to ensure that the monastery itself ran smoothly. Such positions were created so that various parts of a monastery operated to the greatest efficiency – such as in the kitchens, the guest house, the infirmary etc.
Abbot: man chosen to lead the monks in a monastery. An abbot was seen as a man of great learning, a good example to the monks and a man of great holiness.
Almoner: a monk who looked after the poor when they visited the almonry. Traditionally, an almoner and the monks who helped him would wash the feet of the poor who were at the almonry every Thursday.
Cellarer: a monk who was in charge of a bake house and the brew house.
Chamberlain: a monk who looked after the day-to-day essentials of the monks – clean bedding; hot water for washing and shaving; keeping the washing area clean; ensuring that habits were well kept; keeping the cloister clean etc.
Hosteller: a monk who looked after visitors to the guesthouse.
Infirmarian: a monk who was put in charge of the infirmary.
Kitchener: a monk who was in charge of the kitchen; the cellarer was in charge of him.
Precentor: a monk who was in charge of the writing within a monastery.
Sacrist: a monk who was charged with looking after a monastery’s treasure when it was on display to the public. A sacrist would sit in a watching chamber and keep an eye on those who were visiting the monastery.
Those who excelled in the work that they did laid sound foundations to succeed an abbot when that abbot died.