Medieval Castles and their Interior
Although it is thought that medieval times were barbaric they too enjoyed many comforts we still do today. There is much more to the castle then its' size or the stone arches inside which are still used in many homes today. Castles today are still flocked to by millions of people every year. Sometimes you even see copies of castles right here in the U.S.A but they are not quite the same. Although they were originally built to protect the King, Castles became more and more popular among other nobles as well. Each family castle had their own special design and touch but most castles of medieval times had a lot of the same basic elements in their interior.
Within the shell keep and behind the great walls of these castles there was always one basic element: the great hall. It was often on the ground floor but sometimes it was raised to the second floor for extra security. "The great hall was a large one-room structure with a lofty ceiling"(Giess 58). This was where all the people of the castles slept (excluding the lord and the Lady). There was of course a great big curtain put up so the ladies would be separate from the men. It wasn't until the end of the century when separate rooms were invented. The great hall was usually located in the very center of the castle and walls built out of stone surrounded the whole room. The entrance was in a sidewall near the lower end of the hall. An outside staircase would be built if the hall were on the second floor. The family would usually have its feasts in this room (Gies 60). For even more security they would have guards stand outside the great hall on all sides of the room so guests would feel safe when they were feasting (Nardo 57). Early halls were aisled like a church, with rows of wooden posts or stone pillars supporting the timber roof. Windows were equipped with wooden shutters secured by an iron bar but they were rarely glazed. It wasn't until the13th century a king or a great baron might have white or greenish glass in the windows. Then later in the14th century that glazed windows were in every castle (Gies59).
In the castle, the first floor or ground floor (it was sometimes called) was the actual earth itself. They would have to pack and pat down the dirt in order to have an even floor. In some castles the floor was made of stone or plaster. The upper floors of the house were made of wood so it could be easily supported. Most of the floors were left bare because the carpets were hung on the wall or used for table coverings. "The floors of a castle were usually strewn with herbs and flowers to mask the collection of beer, bones and excrement of dogs left on the floor" (Gies 60). This nasty stuff would sometimes be left there for weeks at a time hence the flowers and herbs.
The great room a place for entertaining, dining, and sleeping. Even though so much went on in this room it was sparsely furnished. It would have some large tables for feasting, a few chairs, and cupboards for dishware, barrels and some chests for other storage. It was also said that the bigger chair you had at the dinner table the higher you were in rank. This then gave the lord and the lady the biggest chairs. In the upper floors of the castle the walls would have been painted. The colors they used were reds, green, yellows and sometimes blue. These were the only available colors for decorating the castle interior at the time. In some castles they would often have the color gold but mostly you would find this in the chapel. The color of the house was most often seen in the painted clothes that hung on the wall. These clothes were used to decorate but also served as good insulation in the rather drafty castle (Singman 131).
The next rooms were the bedchambers, which were mostly found on the upper levels of the castle. In the early medieval times the nobles slept on the...
Cited: Nardo, Don. The Medieval Castle. California: Lucent Books, 1997.
Singman, Jeffery L. Medieval Europe. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999.
Gies, Frances, et. al. Life in a Medieval Castle. New York: Thomas Crowell Company, 1974.
"Interior Design." World Book Encyclopedia. 1995. ed.
Medieval Castles. 12 Dec 2001. http://www.castles-of-britain.com
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