abbey

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abbey, monastic house, especially among Benedictines and Cistercians, consisting of not less than 12 monks or nuns ruled by an abbot or abbess. Many abbeys were originally self-supporting. In the Benedictine expansion after the 8th cent., abbeys were often important centers of learning and peaceful arts and, like Fulda, were sometimes the nuclei of future towns. The buildings surround a church and include a dormitory, refectory, and guest house, all surrounded by a wall. The courtyard, derived from the Roman atrium, was a usual feature, as was the cloister or arcade surrounding the court. Cluniac abbeys were always ornate, Cistercian ones notably bare. The Carthusians with their special polity developed an altogether different structure called the charterhouse.

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ab·bey / ˈabē/ • n. (pl. -beys) the building or buildings occupied by a community of monks or nuns. ∎  a church or house that was formerly an abbey.

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Abbey. Building or buildings used (or once used) by a religious order of monks or nuns.

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abbey Complex of buildings that constitute a religious community, the centre of which is the abbey church. Since the decline of monasticism often only the church remains.

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abbey. See monastery.