Sunday, 23 November 2014

A Medieval Life?

I am a big fan of experimental archaeology.   I believe that in order to understand the past it is very useful to recreate situations and try things out for yourself.  So, I am a big fan of Ruth Goodman and her historical chums who have for the last few years been bringing different era farms to our tv screens.  Now they have embarked on a new historical subject... Secrets of the Castle. 


I watched the first episode and was instantly hooked. Ruth Goodman is an expert in the housewife, home maker stuff and while the boys were getting to grips with stonemasonry Ruth was busy making their lean-to into a medieval home.  And it suddenly struck me how much like my own home it was.  Yes I know, I can hear you laughing... its nothing like my home as you can see but... there are similarities...


I live in just one room.  Yes my room is very large compared to the medieval one, and mine is a proper room, not open to the elements, but all the same there are some very similar aspects... mine being a bit of a cross between the Lord of the Manor's great hall and a more humble dwelling.  For example....


This is our 'Great Hall'. 


 We have an area for food preparation.


And we have an area for sitting and congregating with friends around the fire.  And of course we have our entertainment ... the tv. 


Our minstrels gallery isn't for the minstrels... its where we have our sleeping area and storage for clothes.


Like most people these days we keep our minstrels on the computer... they take up less room but are ready to play at the click of the mouse.  We have a separate room for shower and toilet but this is the only private room in the house.


The kitchen is separated from the sitting room only by this 'bar'. 



We have two mezzanine areas where we have our 'bedroom' and a guest 'bedroom' but its still very much an open area. Most of the time there are only two of us living here so there isn't really an issue about privacy.


 But it is perfectly possible to see and be seen from one sleeping area across to the mezzanine on the other side where our occasional guests may be sleeping... and snoring... or not able to sleep because of our snoring!  


Privacy is a cultural thing.  Many people from very different cultures all over the world and all through history have adopted the communal one room living arrangement.  From the Great Hall of ancient Europe to long houses in Asia, the world abounds with the one room house.  And now we understand why it has been so popular. 


The one room house is very convenient.  Everything has its place (because there isn't that much room we tend to keep fairly tidy) and everything has a purpose (we can't keep very much stuff that isn't of any practical use... again because we don't have that much space) and everything is just to hand when you need it.  No searching through rooms looking for stuff. 



 I only have one room to clean.  I only have one room to light and to heat   It is very economical. Sometimes in winter, the heat from cooking the Sunday roast is enough to keep the house warm until quite late in the evening. Whatever I am doing, I am still able to hold  a conversation with whoever else is in the house - its a very sociable arrangement.  And we love it... but...


The privacy thing is often an issue for our guests, even though they are usually close family.  Gone are the days when it was quite acceptable to cram as many kids into the same bed as possible when visiting relatives on holiday, our modern young people expect their own bedroom. 





So... this end of the room is where I keep my books and my sewing and craft stuff.  It is the only part of the house that is not in constant use.  We plan to move the crafts and the books upstairs and build a wall, insert a sliding door and make this our guest bedroom.  Probably starting spring next year... it should be fairly easy and inexpensive to do. 

We think the main room is large enough to be able to separate a small space without impacting unfavourably on the rest of the house but until we actually do it, we won't know.  Watch this space.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting, heating is a big issue here as we are well below freezing most nights starting in November. I remember in the old houses that didn't have central heating, they used to hang lots of thick quilt type of panels to block off areas, kind of held heat in and provided privacy. Not a one room house but allowed a small heat source to keep an area warm.

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  2. Yes I can see how the quilt hangings would work, we have thought about something similar with heavy tapestry curtains (shades of the medieval once again) but our issue is one of privacy/noise rather than heat so I think in the end a wall is going to be the best bet. We can always leave the door open to heat the room up.

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  3. Your house would be perfect for me! My spouse and I are together all the time and we only have guests occasionally so this would really work.

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