A limited number of Carpets and mats were introduced to castle
interiors but floors strewed with straw or rushes were generally
favored during the Medieval times. 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!
Medieval Great Hall
Decoration of the Medieval Great Hall
The way a Great Hall was decorated and furnished indicated the
wealth of the owner of the castle. At first the interior of the
hall was whitewashed. Tapestries and shields and banners
displaying coats of arms decorated the walls. Different colored
paints were used in considerable quantities - gold paint was a
luxurious item which was used in vast quantities! In the later
years of the Medieval period a process called wainscoting was
introduced in which wooden panels were used to line the walls of
a room. Art came to Medieval castle interiors! Medieval Artists
were employed and wall paintings covered the walls above the
Dining in the Great Hall and the Dais
At the end of the Great Hall was the Dais which was a raised
platform for the high table where the highest ranking Lord and
Nobles were seated. In medieval England salt was expensive and
only afforded by the higher Nobility. These Lords sat on the
dais at the 'high table' and their commoner servants at lower
trestle tables. The salt was placed in the centre of the high
table and only those of the appropriate rank had access to it.
Those less favoured on the lower tables were "beneath the salt".
The Lord, Lady and Nobles of the castle would eat their food
from silverware. Other inhabitants would eat their food from
wooden or horn dishes - the following link provides full details
of Medieval Food and Drink.
Every person had their own knife. Spoons were rarely used as any
liquid food was drunk from a cup. Forks were not introduced
until the late 14th century.
Furniture in the Medieval Great Hall
The Medieval Furniture
in the Great Hall was centred around the dining arrangements
which were based on the
Feudal System in which the status of the inhabitant dictated
their lifestyle. 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 became fashionable to paint heraldic designs on
special pieces of furniture belonging to the Lord of the castle.
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. 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.