How Were Medieval Bedrooms Like?

Medieval Bedrooms

How the bedroom looked like in the medieval period depended on who you were. The serfs and peasants did not have a proper bedroom. On the other hand, the wealthy and high nobility had bedrooms with plenty of paintings, fireplaces, and tiny windows to warm up the room. They also had heavy blankets, fur covers, feather mattresses, and tapestries that hang on the wall to prevent dampness in the bedroom. 

How Were Houses In The Medieval Periods?

Most medieval homes were dump, dark and cold. In some seasons, it was brighter and warmer outside than inside the house. For security purposes, windows, if present, were very tiny openings covered with wooden shutters, which were mainly totally closed at night or in bad weather. With the window’s small size, you could see what was happening on the outside, but outsiders couldn’t view the inside. 

Other than manor and castle owners, peasants ate and slept together in tiny quarters which rarely had more than two rooms. These houses had roofs thatched with grass and easily leaked water during the rainy seasons. Sometimes they got destroyed when strong winds accompanied heavy storms.

Bedrooms in the medieval periods were only for the wealthy such as castles and manor owners. The bedroom chambers were partitions from the great hall, and they offered some levels of privacy. They were on the upper floor; hence they were not as cold and damp as rooms on the ground floor. Some of the noble family’s attendants were lucky to stay with their masters in their bedrooms even though they had to sleep on the floor. They sometimes absorbed some warmth from the fireplace. 

How Were The Rooms In The Medieval Castles?

Some of the rooms found in the medieval castles were solar, cabinets, boudoirs, ice houses, kitchens, restrooms, pantries, and larders. With time, bed chambers changed into bedrooms, whereas the hall turned to dine rooms and entrance halls. Cabinets and boudoirs turned to sitting and dressing rooms.  Some features found in medieval castle rooms include;

Great Hall

 It served as the main room of the royal castle and in most country houses during the 16th and 17th centuries. The term great hall distinguished them from other hall types used in post-medieval houses. It was typically a rectangular room with very high ceilings. It had its windows on one long side, including a large bay opening. Usually, it had a minstrel’s gallery above its screens, with one end of the hall having a dais where the top table lay. Other rooms like the lord’s and his family’s private and bedrooms lay beyond the end of the dais.

The great hall was mainly used for warmth and some cooking due to the large fireplaces, which came with elaborate wood or stone carvings. Sometimes it had plasterwork containing coats of arms, caryatids, heraldic mottoes, and other adornments. In some cases, the great halls would have some early listening devices that allowed the owner to hear any conversations that took place there. These devices were known as laird’s lugs.

Solar

This room was set aside for use by the lord’s family as their sleeping chamber, especially in most French and English medieval manor and castles. Their main purpose was to enhance the owners’ privacy, mostly the senior women in the house. That way, they could get away from the bustles, hustles, and noises of the great hall. The solar was smaller than the bedrooms and could not host many people. It came with a fireplace and lots of decorative artworks complemented by tapestries hang on the walls. These features enhanced the status and comfort of the room. 

The solar was separate from other public rooms like the walls, which enhanced privacy in most Western French medieval manors and castles. Additionally, most solar rooms faced the sun since most of the activities required some sunlight, such as embroidery, writing, and other solitary activities. These activities and its general mode of creation earned it its name, the solar. 

Bathrooms And Garderobes.

Bathrooms were uncommon in medieval Europe except for some monasteries. Most ordinary people did not require bathing; hence only castles and manors had bathrooms. It was the case until the end of the Victorian era where cleanliness was considered godly. Medieval bathrooms had portable water tubs taken outside so that the sun could warm up the water and the bather. They ensured privacy using a canopy tent, and when the weather worsened, the bather and the water tub entered the bedroom.

Garderobe (in present-day the primitive toilet) was a simple hole that discharged to the outside. Typically, they were small rooms or large closets. People placed visitors’ coats and cloaked inside the garderobes during these times since they considered ammonia a disinfectant. Some of them lead to the moats or cesspits depending on the castle’s building structure. After some time, there was indoor plumbing, hence better drainage of the waste from the restrooms. 

Kitchens, Pantries, And Larders

Medieval kitchens were mostly located on an open hearth to ensure they efficiently used the heat from the sun. They were also mostly separated from the main building by an arcade covering to prevent smoke odors and bustle from entering the great hall. They also reduced the risk of fire from affecting the main building. Basic cooking utensils variations such as pans, pots, waffle irons, and kettles were still in existence. Other cooking utensils used for open fire cooking included spits that came in various sizes and skewering materials. 

Most kitchens had assorted knives, cooking and stirring spoons, graters, and ladles. They also had mortar and sieve clothes which only the wealthy households possessed. These were a must-have since most medieval recipes required foods to be finely mashed, chopped, strained, and seasoned when cooking and sometimes after. They believed that the finer the food’s consistency, the easier it was to be absorbed in the digestive tract. Medieval kitchen staff usually numbered over a hundred as they included butchers, carvers, page boys, pantlers, bakers, saucier, wafers, larders, milkmen, scullions, and butlers. 

Pantry

It was located in the great hall as a separate room that served various functions such as food storage. The bread pantry was a store for bread, and any activity involved in its preparation took place in the same room. 

Larder

It was a cool area for storing food before use. People used the larder before modern-day refrigerators came into existence.  One of the qualities that came with a larder was coolness. They also had to be close to food preparation areas and constructed to keep the flies and other insects away. Additionally, they had to be easy to clean with shelves and cupboards for proper food storage. In most medieval homes, people constructed the larder in the house part that received minimal sunshine to maintain cool temperatures.

Most larders had unglazed windows covered with fine mesh to keep flies away. For proper meat storage, some came with hooks to hang large meat joints. Medieval households had a larderer who was in charge of fish and meat and also the room. 

What House Types Were There During The Medieval Period?

During medieval times, there were various types of houses depending on the social classes. They ranged from castles, manor to the peasants and serf homes. They had the following features;

Medieval Castles

Medieval castles were huge and mostly made of stones. Inside the castle, there were staircases, hallways, bedrooms, storerooms, knights’ barracks, a chapel, a gatehouse, and priveys. Despite being large, drafty, and fancy, they were also cold and very dusty. 

Medieval Manors

Manor house’s construction was the same as the castles with elaborate entrances, showing how important the owner was.A noble family living in the manor slept in private quarters, whereas all the servants slept in the great hallway.

Peasants And Serf’s Houses

Most peasants’ houses were one-roomed units, usually huts made of logs held together by mud and thatched with grass. The roof had a small hole to let out smoke during the rainy seasons when the peasants could not cook outside. Some homes had very little furniture, such as a single three-legged stool and a straw bed covered with a leather toss. 

Townhomes

Along the narrow streets, small shops, and above them are where their owners lived. Shops were made of wood and had thatched roofs which made fire a consistent problem to worry about.

Monasteries And Convents

Nuns lived in convents and monks in monasteries which came in different sizes. Some were very small such that they held as few as five people. Some abbeys came in the size of castles; hence they held more people capacity. 

Conclusion

How a bedroom looked like in the medieval period highly depended on who you were. The poor peasants did not even have a bedroom since they lived in single unit huts which served as their bedroom, kitchen, and sitting room. Only the wealthy had bedrooms which did not have much laxity that we have today. However, they were lucky enough to sleep on comfortable feather mattresses and cover themselves with heavy blankets.

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