The tour of the Medieval Museum begins literally by stepping back in time - from the reception area down the 13th century spiral staircase to two fully preserved medieval chambers, where faint echoes of the medieval choristers can be heard singing!
The Choristers’ Hall was built around 1270 in the time of Stephen de Fulbourne, Bishop of Waterford, as a residence for the dean of the cathedral.
Stephen de Fulbourne, Bishop of Waterford was appointed governor of Ireland by King Edward I. He was a member of a crusading military religious order - the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem.
Dean John Collyn lived here between 1440 and 1483 and commissioned the only set of medieval cloth-of-gold High Mass vestments to survive today in Northern Europe. 600 years later they are on display in the galleries above the Choristers’ Hall.
The spiral staircase within this tower leads down to the Choristers’ Hall, the lower chamber of the medieval deanery. The portion of the tower which is below ground dates from the 1270s. The Choristers’ Hall was built up against the town walls. The gable wall of the building is the original 13th century town wall.
The upper floors of the Choristers’ Hall have long since ceased to exist.
The stone surround of the door leading to the stair tower as well as the carved corner stones on the central row of pillars are of Dundry stone. This beautiful stone is a soft limestone and very easy to carve. This was imported in the Middle Ages as ships’ ballast from Dundry in the south of England. Interestingly stone from the same quarry in Dundry was used 750 years later to create the magnificent facade of this lovely warm butter-coloured museum building.
Under a glass panel in the floor you will see where archaeologists found the foundations of an even earlier deanery building that stood on this site.