Medieval Castle Furniture

 

Medieval Castle Furniture

  • Medieval Castle Furniture Design
  • Medieval Castle Furniture which could be found in the Great Hall, the Solar, the Bower and the Bedrooms
  • What material and coverings were  Medieval Castle furniture made of?

Medieval Castle Furniture
Medieval castle furniture was initially light and portable due to the constant movement of the Lords and Nobles of the land.

 
 
 
Medieval Castles
Castles Index 

As time went by this lifestyle changed and castles were seen as more permanent residences with a requirement for additional luxury and comfort, although it was still customary to travel the Country. There were basically four different types of castle furniture:

  • Portable Furniture
  • Built-in Castle Furniture
  • Everyday, utilitarian furniture
  • Highly decorated and rich furniture used for show

Contrary to general opinion Medieval castles and their furniture were were often decorated in bright colours!

Medieval Castle Furniture

What wood was Medieval Castle Furniture made from?
Medieval castle furniture was made from wood. English medieval furniture is commonly associated with furniture made from oak but other woods were also used. The wood used for Medieval castle furniture included the following types:

  • Oak
  • Ash
  • Elm
  • Poplar
  • Larch
  • Beech

Castle furniture was assembled with joints which were secured by wooden pegs or iron nails. Glue was used to fasten canvas or leather which was sometimes added as an exterior finish or lining.

Was Medieval Castle Furniture painted?
Yes! Medieval castle furniture was painted! Red and green were the most popular colours used but there are also details in Medieval accounting documents of white, yellow, and black paint. It was fashionable to paint heraldic designs on special pieces of furniture belonging to the Lord of the castle.

Other methods used to decorate Medieval Castle Furniture
Other methods used to decorate Medieval Castle Furniture including:

  • Gilding
  • Carved Ornamentation
  • Tracery
  • Decorative Metal work

Items of Medieval furniture were covered in a variety of materials including:

  • Leather
  • Velvet
  • Tapestry work

Portable Medieval Castle Furniture
Much of the Medieval castle furniture had to be light and portable due to the constant movement of the Lords and Nobles of the land. Furniture was designed accordingly. The portable castle furniture was transported from one castle to the next in wagons. The portable types of furniture included:

  • Beds and Pallets
  • Stools
  • Benches
  • Trestle tables
  • Folding chairs
  • Chests
  • Coffers ( Strongbox)
  • Buffets
  • Wooden barrels used as baths

The origins of the term travelling trunk. Early chests were required to pack belongings when travelling about the land. The centre was hollowed out from the trunk of a tree - giving the origins of the word "trunk". The lid hinged with iron strap-hinges.

Medieval Castle Furniture - Permanent fixtures
Much of the Medieval castle furniture was built-in as permanent fixtures of the castle. The built-in types of furniture featured strongly in the Medieval Kitchens and included:

  • Built-in Cooking ovens
  • Sinks
  • Fireplaces
  • Larders
  • Cupboards
  • Window seats
  • Wall seats
  • Built-in Chapel furniture - choir stalls etc

Medieval Castle Furniture
Having reached an understanding of the materials used in Medieval castle furniture and their decorative qualities the easiest way to consider the pieces of furniture required in a Medieval Castle is to view each of the main rooms in the castle.

FURNITURE IN THE GREAT HALL

  • The castle furniture in the room called the Great Hall was  centred around the dining arrangements. Individual chairs were quite a luxury and wooden benches were more commonly used furniture to sit on. Trestle tables were used for dining. There were some free-standing tables which were occasionally covered with a linen cloth.
  • Most medieval tables consisted of trestle-tables which enabled quick removal after the meal to make room for entertainment or for the servants to sleep
  • Rare chairs with high straight backs and seats and arms, sometimes stuffed with rushes, were  used only by heads of households
  • Various types of chests - some designed for travelling some had a permanent place in the castle. The chests used for travelling were designed without feet or legs. The chests which had a permanent place in the castle were designed with legs keeping the chest away from the filthy rushes and sometimes vermin infested castle floors. These chests also tended to be more ornate and heavy
  • Buffets - these were a series of wooden planks with a number of stepped shelves. The number of shelves indicated rank! The more shelves the higher the rank. The 'Stepped Buffets' were covered with rich drapes and assembled for use at Banquets and Feasts. The Nobles finest plates of gold or silver were displayed on the 'Buffet' and servants served from them. The 'Buffets' were the predecessors of the 'sideboard' and the word 'Buffet' is now commonly used to describe 'finger-food'
  • A limited number of Carpets and mats were introduced to castle interiors but floors strewn with straw or rushes were more commonly used. Sweet smelling herbs such as lavender, camomile, rose petals, daisies and fennel were added to disguise the bad smells of the castles which were prevalent due to the inadequate plumbing systems.

CASTLE FURNITURE IN THE THRONE ROOM

  • The Throne room was a later addition to Medieval Castles and was designed as a receiving room for the King or Queen. Thrones were usually cushioned, sometimes upholstered and elaborate chairs. Thrones were seen as symbols of authority and importance. The throne was placed on a dais under a canopy and accompanied by a footstool.

CASTLE FURNITURE IN THE SOLAR

  • The castle furniture in the room called the Solar was intended for sleeping and private quarters and used by the Lord's family. It also became a private sitting room favoured by the family. The furniture would therefore include beds, chairs and chests - it is worth noting that beds sometimes doubled as chairs

BEDROOM FURNITURE FOR THE RICH NOBLES

  • Canopied or hung beds were a symbol of the status and importance. The base of the bed was made of wooden frames with holes in them. Rope was pulled through the holes in a criss-cross pattern which formed the base of the bed. A mattress was usually made of feathers and placed on top of the base. The bed canopy assemblage consisted of a bed head, or tester, rising to a suspended frame, which was covered and draped in fabric. The bed would have sheets, quilts, fur coverlets, and pillows. The whole bed could be enclosed by curtains. The four-poster bed was eventually a requirement of every Medieval Lord

BEDROOM FURNITURE FOR THE POOR!

  • The beds used by the poor were called pallets or trundles. The mattresses were made of straw.

CASTLE FURNITURE IN THE WARDROBE

  • The castle room called the wardrobe was intended as a dressing room and storage room for clothes and used by Lord of the castle. This private room also became the storage room for costly, personal items such as jewels, coins, furs, spices, and plates and therefore would be furnished with various chests and coffers

CASTLE FURNITURE IN THE BOWER

  • The castle room called the Bower was intended for the Lady of the castle and used as her private withdrawing-room. Chests for garments, and a few benches and stools made up the furniture of the Bower.

FURNITURE IN THE CHAPEL

  • The chapel was probably the most elaborately furnished, rich in ornaments church plate and embroidered vestments, having glazed windows and colorful furniture.  A chapel features would include a painted rood-screen and an altar chest

FURNITURE IN THE ORATORY

  • The Oratory was intended for  use as a private chapel and would have an altar

Medieval Castle Furniture
The above descriptions of the furnitur which could be found in a Medieval castle provide an good insight into the life and living conditions of the inhabitants. Further information about the living conditions, such has the heating, lighting, plumbing and decoration can be found by clicking Medieval Castle Interiors and even more information by clicking Medieval Castle Rooms.

Medieval Castle Furniture

Medieval Castle Furniture

  • What different rooms were there in the Medieval castles?
  • What entertainment was there for people who lived in the Medieval castles?
  • The interiors of Medieval castles?
  • What was the furniture like in Medieval Castles?
  • The History of Medieval Castles
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