|The reforms of the monastic observance which led to the new Cistercian Order were started at the Abbey of Citeaux at the beginning of the 12th century. The Cistercian observance was conceived as a return to the Rule of St. Benedict in its original, austere form. The Divine Office now occupied six hours, and began with a service in the small hours of the morning. The elaboration of the Gregorian Chant was replaced with a new simplicity. All luxuries were swept away, and the churches were stripped of ornaments. The rule of silence was re-affirmed, and a vegetarian diet enforced. The characteristic Cistercian white habits were made from natural, undyed wool.
Buckfast became a Cistercian abbey in 1147. There was an immediate and fundamental transformation. The whole monastery was rebuilt in stone, in the Cistercian pattern. When the present monks returned to Buckfast in 1882, they were able to uncover almost all of the original foundations dating back to this period, and rebuild the Abbey in the architectural style of the mid-twelfth century - effectively restoring the original Cistercian abbey.
Archaeological excavations in the outer court (1982 - 1990) have shown that the whole precinct probably dates back to this period. The arch of the north gate and part of the barrel-vaulted undercroft by the west cloister are now the only buildings to survive (above ground) from the original 12th century Cistercian abbey.
An artist's impression of what the Cistercian Guest House may have looked like.