Medieval Townships

Medieval Townships

Medieval town homes were made of the same stone bought in
from near by quarries. The stone houses were made the same whether you were
poor or rich. But the inside of the houses were far more different. A poor
family will be squished into one room while rich families might live in a four
story house from cellar to attic with complete servants.

As the years went on the buildings became much taller. By the time the 6th of 7th floor was built you could literally touch the neighbour’s hand.

Comfort was not easy, not even in the wealthy houses.
Heating was difficult and was always a problem because of the stone floors,
ceiling and walls. Little light came in from the windows and oil; fat-base
candles produced an over-powering smell of aroma.

All of the furniture was made of wood including wooden
benches, long tables, cupboards and pantries. Thin linen (when afforded) would
be glued or nailed to benches to provide a little bit of comfort. Beds were
made of the softest materials but were always infested with bedbugs, lice and
other little insects. Some tried to tuck the bed sheets in at night hoping to
kill or squish the bugs when they slept, while others tried to rub ointment.

Cleanliness in the medieval time was a constant problem.
Open drain channels ran along the sides and down the centre of the streets.
Lots of muck and garbage would be thrown onto the side passages and streets.
People threw dirty water out of window in the direction of the drains. People
would throw their left-over meals from dinner out onto the streets so
sanitation was very low.

Livestock in the streets were a big nuisance. Most people
owned or kept pigs because they were cheap and a good source of food. However
the houses were too small and the gardens were even smaller, so the pigs were
often left out on the streets. Stray pigs were even more of a nuisance, usually
the pigs would go a stray and if found dead the owner was charged for.

The town day started with a bell at 4 or 5 o’clock am. It
was to make known that the day had started and to end the night watchman’s
duty.  Most of the shops opened at 6 am
making lots of early morning shopping before the first meal of the day which
was at about 9 or 10 am. The curfew bell rang at 8 of 9 o’clock in the evening
to tell the workers to finish their working day. It became tradition that
anyone out after the curfew bell had to be carrying a torch and have a good
reason for being out late at night by themselves.

Fires were always a fear to the towns. The wooden houses
were built so closely to each other and there wasn’t enough water to supply,
fires were difficult to control and could damage a large area in no time.  Each household was required to keep a full
basin of water outside their door in summer due to the high fire risk. When a
fire did happen it was their job to fulfil their duty by doing whatever they

Medieval town’s meals and diets depended on the individual
family. The main food that everyone ate was bread. People ate white bread made
with wheat and flour. They also ate a lot of pottage which is a soup/stew made
from oats, onions, garlic, nuts, berries and spinach, literally anything that
you can use to make a thick soup. They made different types of pottage
sometimes with beans and peas, vegetables such as turnips and parsnips and leek
pottage which was most popular. Wealthier families had salted pork or fatty
bacon for flavour and protein. They could also afford dairy products like
cheese, milk and butter.

Medieval Festivals.

In the medieval times, the most common entertainment was different festivals. Lots
of people would attend these festivals and they would socialize, sell their
goods and eat food that was made by traveling cooks. Delicious food and drinks
were the main things to a successful festival.
There was one down bit to the festival, there was a lot of food and
drinks at the festivals but it depended on someone’s position in the social
hierarchy as to what they could drink and eat. The most important people like
Gods, Popes and Kings were allowed to eat anything they wanted at the festival
but for peasants and commoners they could only consume what they were allowed
to. The festivals were filed with food, drinks, color, music, dancing, games
and lots of noise. Festivals were good for merchants from other communities and
counties because they were able to sell and trade their goods, such as silks,
herbs, exotic foods and sometimes livestock. It was also good for the town
people to also sell and trade their things as well as buy and swap with the
merchants. The different types of food depended on how much money was put into
the event. Lots of the popular foods were pig, goose, chicken, vultures,
peacocks, sheep and wild bulls. Some festivals ran along the river so some of
the people sold sea animals like fish, seal, dolphin and porpoises. (Which are
small whales.) There were also a lot of various fruits, it also depended on the
seasons, and there were fruits like grapes, plums, wild cherries, apples and
pears. Sometimes the apples and pears would be roasted or cooked and given to
the people to eat. Citrus fruits started to become popular as they were
imported from the European Countries a while later. Wealthier people could
afford fruits like figs, dates and prunes. Their environment was happy and
joyful as everyone enjoyed each other’s company.




One Comment on “Medieval Townships”

  1. swoonie says:

    Great post, Kim. Chock full of interesting information about the Medieval Townships.