Rooms in a Medieval Castle
The Rooms in a Medieval Castle
The number of rooms in a medieval castle varied according to the wealth of the owner who commissioned the building of the castle. The first Medieval castles were built in timber by the Normans, the Motte and Bailey castles and the rooms were situated in the fortified tower. The wooden tower was eventually built in stone - the Medieval Keeps or towers. As time went by the Norman castles were replaced by the huge concentric castles built by King Edward I - these castles were massive and the number of rooms increased considerably. The Concentric castles can be described as castles within castles, the inner building was extremely secure attackers had to surmount a several lines of defence to reach the inner sanctum of these castles. It was no longer necessary to build such high towers and the number of rooms continued to increase accordingly with the advent of castle designs using Gothic Architecture. The following information provides details of the the rooms in a Motte and Bailey castle and the rooms in the bigger Medieval castles
Rooms in a Motte and Bailey Medieval Castle - the Tower Keep
Life in the Medieval Norman Motte and Bailey Castle was not just designed as a fortress it was also a residence with different rooms for the Lord and possibly his family. The most secure part of this type of medieval castle was the Tower keep. The Tower keep was positioned on top of an extremely steep and high Motte and was reached via a wooden bridge from the Bailey. The tower keep generally had two or three storeys:
- The Rooms on the Ground Floor were a kitchen and storeroom
- The rooms on the First Floor housed the Great Hall (optional - would only be built if the location was of significant political or military importance and semi-permanent occupation of the castle was envisioned)
- The Rooms on the Top floor housed the Lord's apartments
Rooms in a Medieval CastleThere were lots more rooms in the next style of Medieval Castle - many with specific names. Not all Medieval Castles had all of theses rooms - this depended on the wealth of the owner and exactly when and in what style the castle had been constructed. A Description of some of the rooms which could be found in a Medieval Castle with facts and information are detailed as follows:
THE GREAT HALL
- The room in the castle called the Great Hall was intended for the main meeting and dining area and used by everyone who lived in the castle. The Great Hall was a large one-room structure with a loft ceiling which was located in the Inner Ward. 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. The Lord's family at first slept at the extreme upper end of the hall located beyond the dais. These sleeping quarters were only separated by a curtain or a screen. This sleeping arrangement quickly changed and private rooms were added to a castle called the Lord and Ladies Chamber.
- 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 LORDS & LADIES CHAMBER
- The room in the castle called the Lords and Ladies Chamber, or the Great Chamber, was intended for use as a bedroom and used by the lord and lady of the castle - it also afforded some privacy for the noble family of the castle. This type of chamber was originally a partitioned room which was added to the end of the Great Hall. The Lords and Ladies chamber were subsequently situated on an upper floor when it was called the solar.
- The room in the castle called the Solar was intended for sleeping and private quarters and used by the Lord's family. It became a private sitting room favoured by the family. Personal servants of the lord might often sleep in the lord's chamber on a portable pallet. The solar suite of rooms was extended to include a wardrobe.
- The room in the castle 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. The use of the wardrobe was extended to the room where dressmaking and hairdressing was carried out.
- The room in the castle called the Bower was intended for the Lady of the castle and used as her private withdrawing-room and bedroom.
THE MINSTREL'S GALLERY
- The room in the castle called the Minstrel's Gallery was intended for the Lord's musicians and situated on a raised gallery overlooking the Great Hall
THE THRONE ROOM
- The Throne room was a later addition and was designed as a receiving room in a castle when the King or Queen was in residence
THE GARDEROBE - PRIVY CHAMBER (the Toilet or lavatory)
- The room in the castle called the Garderobe was intended for use as a toilet or latrine. There were many rooms used as lavatories, called garderobes or privies, included in Medieval Castle. The Privy chambers, garderobes, were positioned as far away from the chambers as practical and often had double doors added to reduce the smell! Shoots were provided for the discharge which often led to the castle moat. The garderobes were supplemented by the use of chamber pots
- The room in the castle called the wardrobe was extended and used by Lord of the castle as a bathroom!. Bathing was usually conducted in wooden barrels but simply designed bathrooms were added in Medieval Castles for the Lords
- Kitchens were integrated into the Medieval castles - they included cooking ovens for baking and huge fireplaces for smoking and roasting food. They also had a water supply complete with a sink and drainage. The kitchens were built against the curtain wall, in the inner bailey and connected to rooms called the Buttery and the Bottlery
- The room in the castle called the Buttery was intended for storing and dispensing beverages, especially ale. The person who presided over the buttery was called the Butler. Next to the buttery another room was added later called the Bottlery.
- The room in the castle called the Bottlery was intended for storing and dispensing wines and other expensive provisions. It was usually located between the Great Hall and the Kitchen. A store room for provisions. The person who presided over the bottlery was called the Bottler.
- The room in the castle called the Pantry was intended for the storage of perishable food products
- Their were often several Storerooms in the castle often located over the buttery and pantry. Used to store non-perishable kitchen items and products.
- The room in the castle called the Chapel was intended for prayer and used by all members of the castle household. The chapel was usually close to the Great hall. The Chapel was often built two stories high, with the nave divided horizontally. The Lord's family and dignitaries sat in the upper part and the servants occupied the lower part of the chapel
- The room in the castle called the Oratory was intended for use as a private chapel. A small room attached to the chapel used for private prayer by the Lord's family.
- The room in the castle called the Dungeon was intended for holding prisoners. The dungeon was usually found in and underground room of one of the towers
- The room in the castle called the Oubliette was a small cell where prisoners were occasionally left to die. This Secret chamber was often reached by a trap door
- The room in the castle called the Casemate was a later addition to the castle and was a covered chamber for storing musketry or artillery.
THE PLACE OF ARMS
- The room in the castle called the Place of Arms was a large area in a covered way, where troops could assemble.
- The room in the castle called the Undercroft was a plain room under a domestic building of a medieval house or castle most which was often used for storage.
- The room in the castle called the Mezzanine was the floor or landing between two main storeys
- The room in the castle called the Gatehouse was a complex of towers, bridges, and barriers built to protect the main entrance of a castle
THE BAILEY OR WARD
- The Bailey or Ward was a courtyard within the walls of the castle
- There were various rooms used for accommodation purposes of the soldiers in the castle. Such quarters were called barracks and mess halls
Rooms in a Medieval CastleThe above descriptions of the many rooms 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 Furniture.