See caption
Norwich Cathedral cloister
Wikimedia Commons

A cloister is a covered walkway usually set out in the form of a square, in the centre of which is a courtyard, or garthSmall piece of enclosed ground.. It was a central feature of monastic buildings, and usually built on the south side of the church. In early examples the outer wall of the arcade is open to the elements, but in later times it was often glazed, containing spaces for washing, study and storage space for books and records.[1]

The term cloister is derived from the Old English cloistre, which itself comes from the Latin claustrum, meaning “a shut up place”.[2]

See also

  • PeristyleRange of columns surrounding an architectural feature.



Darvill, Timothy. “Cloister.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology, Oxford University Press, 2021,
OED. “Cloister, n.” Oxford English Dictionary, Online, Oxford  University Press, 2022,