"Whenever any important business has to be done in the monastery, let the Abbot call together the whole community and state the matter to be acted upon." So Saint Benedict began Chapter 3 of his "Rule for Monasteries." The chapter house was devised to facilitate such meetings. Usually located off the cloister, chapter houses, such as this example, were generally rectangular in shape and furnished with stone-hewn benches encircling the room. The abbot sat on a separate, often raised seat. The room was illuminated by windows on the rear wall, as well as by the arcades at the entrance. This view of the Pontaut Chapter House from Pontaut in southwest France shows the entrance from the cloister. Originally the interior walls were plastered and perhaps painted. (Some color can still be seen on the ribs of the vaults.) The decorations of the capitals and abacus blocks are imaginatively varied and include rosettes, palmettes, and basket-weave patterns as well as carvings representing pinecones. Like many other church buildings, the abbey of Pontaut suffered from changing political fortunes and neglect: it was partially destroyed in 1569 during the Wars of Religion and was abandoned by 1791 in the aftermath of the French Revolution. By the nineteenth century, the chapter house was being used as a stable, and it fell into a dilapidated condition until its purchase in the early 1930s.