At the Tables of the Monks: The Caterer (or Buyer)

Photo credit: Brianna Privett
Photo credit: Brianna Privett


[Note the Abbey paid the caterer for his services, since this person did not belong to the cloistered community.]

The caterer, says one Custumal, “ought to be a broadminded and strong-minded man : one who acts with decision, and is wise, just and upright in things belonging to his office ; one who is prudent, knowing, discreet and careful when purchasing meat and fish in the market or from the salesman.” Under the kitchener, the caterer had to look after the cook and his assistants, and every day to see that the expenses were properly and faithfully set down. He had to watch that the right things were given out to those who had to prepare them, and at the daily meals of the community it was his duty to stand at the kitchen hatchway and see that they were served up in a fitting manner. In the market, the buyer for the superiour always gave way to the caterer for the community. In the case of Edmundsbury at least, it was settled by Abbot Sampson that this was always to be so. Under the conventual caterer were to servants always ready at his call to carry the provisions he purchased in the market to the monastery. The stipend of the caterer was whatever had been agreed as just, and he usually had clothes “according to his station,” and certain provisions at his disposal.

[Note: All information quoted from F. A. Gasquet’s English Monastic Life (1905, public domain, and transcribed by Richenda Fairhurst, July 2007).]