Medieval Townships-Hannah Yin

Large and solid walls were built around the towns. Near the walls was where the poor built their own houses.  Those houses were made of wood since they did not have much money, but the houses had many storeys. These houses were coated with a high flammable paint made of pitch and linseed oil. The wealthier people would live in the centre of town. The towns were limited in spaces so the apartments or the houses were very close to each other. People could even reach each other by put their hands out of the windows.

Different types of houses:

Peasants’ Cottages:  A peasant’s cottage could be made of stones with straw covered on the roof and ‘wattle’ fence around the cottage. Other type of cottage was made of stable wooden frame which the gaps were filled with wattle. The outside of the house walls were covered with “daub”: a special mud mixture, and were painted with lime-wash.


Village House:  The village house was the same as the cottage house that was covered with “daub” and painted in lime-wash. Beside this, the other part of the house was completely different. It had another storey with the rooms and the roof was covered with tiles.

Small Manor House:  The person who was in charge of a village lived in this house. It was a bit bigger than the village house and had two or more storeys.

Cruck Framed House: This type of house was a little different to the Small Manor house. Carefully selected tree trunks that had been split along their length, were used for made the large black shapes at the front of the house which made the house more firm.

Town House:  Houses in towns looked very small but could extend back quite far. Spaces in towns were very limited; therefore, houses were often built very closely.

Large Town House:  Large town house was much bigger than the cottages, village houses, small manor houses, cruck framed houses and town houses. It had 3 floors and lots of windows. People lived in this house were very wealthy and could be the rich merchants.

Two Medieval Shops: This building was in town or city where trade was very significant. The ground floor was 2 shops where the owners of the houses sold their goods. The upper floors were where the owners, owners’ families and their servants lived.


The medieval towns may not had as many pollutions as we do now, but to lived in the medieval towns in the Middle Ages really means that you has to be able to endured the level of dirtiness and stinkiness in the towns. Can you be able to live in a place where the lanes are narrow and only lit by the people’s lanterns and candles and had no footpaths?  Where rubbish, food scraps, bones and sewage are everywhere and rat- infested and blood of slaughtered animals flow on the ground. Definitely not! However, the medieval people had to live in this kind of environment in their whole entire lives. It is not surprised that you would get hit by a bag of wastes as you walk along the street. You can’t go up to thrower and express your displeasure as they had already warn you “look out below!” Then it is your fault for not having jumped out of the way quickly enough. Due to the unsanitary condition, disease such as Black Death happened in the fourteenth century and almost killed everyone.

Town Square

People would crowd in the central marketplace of the towns everyday where most things happened in that area. Basically, people (merchants and traders) sold all sort of things except technology during the Middle Ages. They sold their own goods mainly in the towns and cities. The merchants lived in apartments where it had the ground floors and several other floors above it. The ground floors that were right underneath their apartments were where they sold their merchandise. The villages did not have any markets or permanent shops. Thus fairs were often held outside the villages in fields at the crossroads or road traffics. Things they sold included: food (such as seafood, fruit and breads), pottery, weapons, armours, jewellery, clothes, arts and etc.  There were also some actors for entertainments. The Church was also there for people to participate but the services were in Latin. The Medieval people believed in Heaven and Hell. It was important for them to come to confession each week and ask God for forgiveness. The priest would also read stories from the Bible and explain the association between the paintings in the church and stories. Priest were not allowed to drink too many wines and lived with women. The good thing for them were that the people had to give tenth of all their crops to them once a year, which is called a tithe.

Life on a Manor

Hunts and shops of the serfs and freedmen who worked for the lord were clustered near the castle or manor house where their lord lived. It made up a small village with chapel and mill. The lord’s fields pasture land and woods for hunting were beside the village. There were two types of peasants: the freedmen and the serfs. The freedmen were much better than serfs because they were not bound to anyone.  The peasants seek safety inside the walls of the lord’s castle or manor house when the bandits and invaders were tried to loot or kill them. They would become the serfs and worked for their lord and also agreed to give certain amount of crops they grew on land they rented as tenant farmers and livestock they raised. The farmers used three-field method of farming. The first one was planted in wheat or rye in autumn; the second one was planted in spring could either be in beans, peas and oats or for barley (for making beer). Serfs also had to agree to give extra feast days. Their wives and daughters also helped out in the manor house. If a lord sold his estate to another lord, the serfs were part of the deal as well, which means they belong to their new owner. There were some consequences if serfs tried to run away from their lord. As they captured by their lord, they would need to face the cruellest punishments. Even they didn’t captured by their lord; they would still have the high risk of being killed by the invaders and bandits without under their lord’s protection.


One Comment on “Medieval Townships-Hannah Yin”

  1. swoonie says:

    Hannah, I love your pictures of different medieval houses and your description of each. It is very informative and well laid out. I really enjoyed reading your posts. Thank you.