The private bedchambers of a medieval castle were normally entered by a narrow corridor at the upper end of the great hall—often, the bedrooms and living rooms of the lord and lady of the castle, as well as their immediate relatives or esteemed visitors, were on the first level of the edifice. A secondary floor contained storage space, often under the same roof as the bedroom.
The most prestigious room in a castle was the king's or queen's chamber. This would usually be located at the top of the keep (the large stone tower at the center of many castles that served as the monarch's home), with views over the surrounding area. It might also be called the prince's or princess's chamber, depending on the gender of the child who would eventually occupy it. These chambers would be furnished with a large four-post bed with velvet hangings, a chair, and a chest for clothes. They might also have a table, stool, or bench where the king or queen could eat and work at his or her desk. Windows would give light and air to this lofty room.
Other notable rooms include the chapel, which was usually located near the entrance of the castle; the kitchen, which was usually located near the stable block and often had its own exit from the main body of the castle; and the watchtower, which provided guards with a view of the surrounding area.
In a castle, bedchambers are the Lord's bedrooms. The lord's and lady's private apartments, the most equipped and pleasant bedrooms in a castle, with easy access to the great hall and kitchens, were known as Bed Chambers. Many castles were able to restore such chambers to a near-perfect replica of the originals. However, many others had their bedchamber improved upon over time by various owners.
The word "bedchamber" comes from the Old English bæccelmere, which means "bedroom." Thus, a king or queen would have one for themselves and one for their spouse or lover. These rooms would have been luxurious, with thick carpets on the floor and soft blankets on the beds.
They would also have been well-furnished rooms, with chests for clothes, tables for writing notes, and chairs for sitting or standing. There might even be a fireplace in the room. Windows would have been open shelves, with curtains or cloths hanging between them to block out the light when not in use.
King Henry VIII owned three castles that included these rooms: Windsor, Greenwich, and Hampton Court.
At Greenwich, the bedchamber was located on the first floor next to the solar (a large living room) and opposite the privy chamber (another large living room).
The Great Hall was the main chamber of a castle and the biggest room—great halls may also be found in palaces and manor homes during the medieval period. It was here that guests would be received, where ceremonies and celebrations would take place. The walls of the great hall were usually decorated with pictures or sculptures.
Medieval homeowners didn't have air-conditioning so heat was one way to keep rooms comfortable. Hot stones, hot baths, and even hot meals were all options for keeping rooms cool. In very cold climates, a fire might be built in the middle of the room to provide warmth as well as color with the smoke.
The most important room in a house during the medieval period was without a doubt the kitchen. Not only did it provide a place where food could be prepared and cooked, but it also served as a social center where gossip was shared, stories were told, and music was performed by musicians called minstrels. These men and women would travel around England singing and playing instruments such as viols and harpsichords to entertain people at weddings, funerals, and other events. They would perform for groups of people inside churches before the service started and after the service ended too.
The Great Hall, a chamber in the castle, was meant for the major meeting and dining space and was used by everyone who resided there. The Great Hall was a massive one-room construction in the Inner Ward with a loft ceiling. It could hold up to 300 people and had a large fireplace at one end. There were no tables or chairs used at the Great Hall -- just benches along the walls.
The dining room is usually located on the first floor of the castle tower or keep. This room is used for special occasions only because it is not possible to seat more than twenty people in here. The dining room usually has two long trestle tables with ten seats each, although four-seat tables are also used sometimes. There are often fine linen tablecloths and silver cutlery present in the dining room. During wartime, when money was short, wooden boards would be used instead.
In larger castles, there may be separate dining rooms for men and women. In smaller castles, this distinction is not made and both sexes eat together in one large room.
At dinner time, everyone stands up and serves themselves from the central buffet table. They then sit down again once they have finished eating. There is always plenty to choose from, so people tend to make their way repeatedly through the feast to try different dishes and drinks.
The principal rooms of medieval castles and huge manor homes are listed here.
The kitchen is often positioned beneath the Great Hall in many medieval castles, as shown in the photo above. The meal would be carried upstairs to the guests after preparation. To prevent the chance of fire spreading to the main dwelling, several castles had kitchens situated in separate structures. These could be towers or buildings close by.
In larger castles, there might be more than one kitchen. There were usually a master chef and an assistant chef who worked together to prepare the food for the family and staff. They would work from a list of items needed to serve at dinner time which was sent out by the seneschal (the manager of the castle).
Chefs used whatever was available to them when preparing their meals. They might have had some choice about what they cooked but not much else. For example, if there were no carrots or potatoes to be found, they would use celery or turnips instead. And since meat was generally cheaper than vegetables, that's what most people would have eaten anyway.
Chefs also didn't have much control over the way their castle was run. A lot would depend on how much money there was coming in and going out. If times were bad, they might have to do without certain things like silk cloths for dressings or new pots for cooking.