A Medieval castle would certainly not be my residence of choice, but of course the aristocracy and landed gentry who lived in them would have wanted nothing less !
As a lover of my home comforts, I can imagine that the stone built edifice, with its flagstoned floors and corridors must have been as cold as charity in the winter. I know they had huge fireplaces in each room, but how far would the heat have penetrated into the room? No doubt there was some heat generated by the candles or flaming torches set in wall sconces that served to light the building, but not enough to make much difference probably. It is no wonder they wore heavy robes and furs.!
From what I have read, the kitchens were in the basements of castles, so surely all the food must have been stone cold by the time it reached the banqueting table.Just imagine the congealed grease and fat in a cold pigs head ! And bearing in mind the fact that bathing or washing regularly, or even changing one’s clothes was not the norm, the smell rising from a room full of people must have been terrible. They were probably alive with lice too, not a nice thought.
Talking of smells, what about the delicate subject of sanitation. There were no toilets as we know them, more often than not just a seat with a hole in it in the corner of the room. Human waste then fell into a pit in the ground. In later buildings a garderobe could often be found. This was basically a type of stone potty suspended over the castle wall, with a hole in the floor.The principle was the same though, the waste would just plummet into the pit. There were people called Gong Farmers whose
THE PROS AND CONS OF LIVING IN A MEDIEVAL CASTLE
job it was to empty these pits, and cart the waste away outside the castle or city walls. Imagine innocently going about your job in the pit when someone above……no, sorry, we won’t go there. The Gong Farmers were only allowed to work at night and were forced to live together in designated areas. I wonder why !
Whilst on the subject, there was no such thing as toilet paper, but handfuls of straw or hay were used. An alternative was a curved stick called a gomphus. And to think we complain if we come across a roll of that shiny Izal stuff in a public toilet.
Swiftly changing the subject, I have not thought of many things in favour of living in a medieval castle. Of course there were dungeons, so anyone who annoyed you could be kept out of the way. And I bet they never had cold callers knocking to sell them double glazing or tarmac driveways, the drawbridge could be raised if they were spotted approaching, and they would not be allowed to cross. If they managed to get to the door without being apprehended, they could be doused in boiling oil, I guarantee they wouldn’t ever try and call again.!