Floor. Typically, the floor was built of stone. The flooring of royal palaces and opulent rooms were occasionally decorated with multicolored tiles. Carpets were uncommon. In medieval castles, the great hall was usually dirt floors with no furniture other than benches for seating. In more recent times, the great hall has been furnished with tables, chairs, and other decorative items.
The great hall is one of the largest rooms in a medieval or modern castle. It is used for entertaining guests or hosting large events. Sometimes, it is also called "the court" because it was where the king or queen would sit to judge cases.
In most castles, the great hall is on the first floor. The entrance is through a door that leads into the middle of the room. On each side of the door are stairs going up to other floors. There may be only one hallway like this or there may be several. At the end of the hall is another door leading out onto the battlements or ramparts.
The great hall should not be confused with the dining hall. They are different rooms located within the same building. Generally, they will have separate entrances and sometimes even separate bathrooms. However, they can be connected by a larger room called a "gallery".
When a hall was elevated to the top story, the floor was almost always timber, supported either by a series of wooden pillars in the basement below, as in Chepstow's Great Hall (pictured left), or by stone vaulting. The ceiling would be flat, made of wood and covered with plaster or lime to make it smooth and glossy.
In old castles, you will also often find that some rooms are raised above the others. These usually have a higher roofline than the lower-level rooms and can be difficult to enter if you do not know they exist. These room are called "throns" or "royal apartments" and usually contain a large bed with an ornate headboard. They may also have a private bathroom attached.
The most important thing to remember about medieval castle floors is that they were designed to be walked on! The ground beneath your feet was usually dirt or stone, which was both hard and rough. Castles were built to protect their inhabitants from attack, so they were not built for comfort. The floors within the walls of castles were usually made of wood, because that was all anyone could afford at the time. If a castle did have a stone foundation, like those at Chepstow or Carlisle, then the first story above ground level would be made of stone.
230. The Great Hall at Hampton Court is an exception to this norm, demonstrating that first floor areas were occasionally tiled but required the presence of a "large timber sub-floor" (Pg. 230). In other cases, the floors were boarded with wood and plastered with plaster of Paris. This method was used in older buildings as well as in castles where timber would have been problematic.
The most common material for Tudor flooring was undressed oak. Where there were stone or brick underlayings, wooden boards were usually replaced by stone or brick. Floors were also made from hay, wheat, and barley; from grass and straw; and even from marijuana plants!
In wealthy homes, the main room on the first floor was called the "great hall". It was here that guests would have been greeted and shown around the house. The great hall would also have had a high table where meals were served to large groups of people. This area was probably furnished with an oak table with seating for up to 40 people.
Other important rooms on the first floor include: study or library, which might be separated from the great hall by a wall or a screen; dining room; kitchen; pantry; maid's room.
Bathrooms were usually located at the back of the house on the ground floor or sometimes on the first floor.
A poor renaissance home's exterior was composed of earth stone or wood. It would have the appearance of a hut. The roof was thatched, and the windows were rectangular holes covered by wooden shutters. The majority of the lower-income dwellings were cramped. Householders could spread out their belongings on the floor inside their homes.
The middle class house had walls made of brick or stone and a slate roof. The size of these houses was adequate for comfortable living. They usually had two stories with an attic space. A basement may have been available but most people lived on the floors above their homes. There were also townhouses built with three or four rooms over several levels. These were popular in large cities because they were energy efficient and cost effective to build.
The mansion house was similar to that of the middle class except that it was larger and more luxurious. It often had five or six bedrooms for guests or family members who did not live there all the time. Sometimes there were additional rooms added onto the back or side of the house for convenience or entertainment purposes.
People worked at a number of different jobs in Renaissance Europe. At one end of the economic spectrum you had knights and soldiers who went on crusade or adventure. They might take their weapons with them when they left home but otherwise they would need to make do with what they had around the house.