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Through the Gatehouse

What is a Gatehouse?                                       gatehousedrawn
How do I pass through?
What shall I find within? How do I get out?
Will I be changed?

They may be ‘key holders’ or ‘gatekeepers’ who control access and exit to the gatehouse and monastic enclosure.

An abbey gatehouse traditionally controls access to and from the monastic enclosure,
so it allows controlled access by community to wider society and vice versa. A medieval monastery might have had several access points. These could be  gatehouses, or gates, styles or simple paths or access paths.

Within the enclosure the culture is characterised by the behaviour and activities of monks and visitors.
We are vigilant about words, actions and activities within.

A cathedral or abbey may have a “cathedral close” or a         images-5
“priory close” which is a different expression of the
phenomenon of enclosure.

A fitting rhyming Latin inscription, such as the following,
could be attached to an Abbey gatehouse


PORTA PATENS ESTO / NULLI CLAUDARIS HONESTO                                 images-2

which would generally be rendered in English as:

The gate must stand open / may you shut to no honest person“,
or more loosely,
“The gate must be open / may you be shut to no honest person”.

An alternative inscription for a gatehouse could be:


“Peace to ones entering  / Peace to ones departing

© Ealing Abbey, copyright 22 May 2015