An undercroft is traditionally a cellar or storage room [ [http://www.castles-of-britain.com/castle38.htm Castle Glossary] (from 'castles-of-britain.com' website. Accessed 2008-01-11.)] , often brick-lined and vaulted, and used for storage in buildings since medieval times. In modern usage, an undercroft is generally a ground (street-level) area which is relatively open to the sides, but covered by the building above.Fact|date=September 2008


While some were used as simple storerooms, others were rented out as shops. For example, the undercroft rooms at Myres Castle in Scotland circa 1300 were used as the medieval kitchen and a range of stores. Many of these early medieval undercrofts were vaulted or groined, such as the vaulted chamber at Beverston Castle or the groined stores at Myres Castle. The term is sometimes used to describe a crypt beneath a church, used for burial purposes. For example, there is a 14th century undercroft or crypt extant at Muchalls Castle in Scotland, even though the original chapel above it was destroyed in an act of war in 1746.

Undercrofts were commonly built in England and Scotland throughout the 13th and early 14th centuries. They occur in cities such as London, Chester and Southampton. The undercroft beneath the Houses of Parliament in London was rented out to the conspirators behind the Gunpowder Plot.

In modern buildings, the term undercroft is often used to describe a ground-level parking area that occupies the footprint of the building (and sometimes extends to other service or garden areas around the structure). This type of parking is however discouraged by some urban design guidelines, as it prevents the ground floor from having activities (shops, restaurants or similar) that provide for a lively streetscape. [ [http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet/attachments/internet/environment/planning_and_buildings/planning/developmentquality/urban_design/Ch3_Street_and_Site_Dimension.pdf The Edinburgh Standards for Urban Design, Section 3.4] (from the City of Edinburgh Council website. Accessed 2008-10-11.)]

Another modern use of the term is to describe the rooms alongside swimming pool tanks, below ground level, that carry filtration services and the like.fact

Buildings with historic examples


*Banqueting House, Palace of Whitehall, London
*Blakeney Guildhall, Blakeney, Norfolk
*Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, West Midlands
*Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, Kent
*Dragon Hall, Norwich, Norfolk
*Durham Castle, Undercroft, Durham City, Durham
*Eastbridge Hospital, Canterbury, Kent
*Forde Abbey, Dorset.
*Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
*Jurnet's House, Norwich, Norfolk
*Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
*Norton Priory,Runcorn, Cheshire
*Rufford Abbey, Nottinghamshire
*St Nicholas Priory, Exeter, Devon
*St Pancras Station, London
*Westminster Abbey, London
*Wingfield Manor, Derbyshire
*York Minster, York, North Yorkshire


*Dublin Castle, Dublin


*Dundrennan Abbey, Dundrennan, Dumfries and Galloway


*Cardiff Castle, Cardiff
*Castell Coch, Cardiff


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Undercroft — Un der*croft, n. [Under + Prov. E. croft a vault; cf. OD. krochte crypt, and E. crypt.] (Arch.) A subterranean room of any kind; esp., one under a church (see {Crypt}), or one used as a chapel or for any sacred purpose. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • undercroft — (n.) crypt of a church; underground vault, late 14c., from UNDER (Cf. under) + CROFT (Cf. croft) …   Etymology dictionary

  • undercroft — [un′dər krôft΄] n. [ME < under (see UNDER ) + croft, a vault < ML crupta < L crypta,CRYPT] an underground room or vault, esp. beneath a church …   English World dictionary

  • undercroft — noun Etymology: Middle English, from under + crofte crypt, from Middle Dutch, from Medieval Latin crupta, from Latin crypta more at crypt Date: 14th century a subterranean room; especially a vaulted chamber under a church …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • undercroft — /un deuhr krawft , kroft /, n. a vault or chamber under the ground, esp. in a church. [1350 1400; ME; see UNDER, CROFT] * * * …   Universalium

  • undercroft — noun A cellar or vaulted storage room …   Wiktionary

  • undercroft — crypt or vault under a church Ecclesiastical Terms …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • undercroft — noun the crypt of a church. Origin ME: from under + the rare term croft crypt , from MDu. crofte cave , from L. crypta …   English new terms dictionary

  • Undercroft — Cellar, crypt, or basement under a building. A vaulted room, sometimes underground, below an upper room ♦ Basement, cellar. (Wood, Margaret. The English Medieval House, 415) Related terms: Cellar …   Medieval glossary

  • undercroft — /ˈʌndəkrɒft/ (say unduhkroft) noun 1. the crypt of a church. 2. a vault or chamber under the ground. 3. the space below the lowest floor of a building; basement. 4. the space under a building which is elevated on piers, columns, etc., usually… …   Australian English dictionary

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