Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cloister (Lat. claustrum, an enclosure), the name applied to a passage running round (generally) the inner wall of a monastic building, built in a quadrangular form, and looking upon the central enclosure. It was intended usually to permit the monks to enjoy the open air without being entirely exposed to the weather while carrying on their education, work, or meditation, or taking exercise. Some English cathedrals have cloisters, and the cloisters of Westminster Abbey are familiar to many people. New College and Magdalen College, Oxford, have good cloisters. The cloisters may be open to the ground on the exposed side, or built half up and lighted in the upper part by arcades, or may, as in some modern buildings in Great Britain, be lighted by glazed windows; but the same general idea of a passage into which rooms open runs through them all. The Campo Santo at Pisa has a famous cloister. By metaphor the term cloister is sometimes used to denote the profession of religion, while again the term "cloistered," as applied to religions, has a special and distinct signification.