Life on the Manor

How did the medieval manor come  into being?

Manorialism came about during the Roman era. It occurred when the landowners needed to combine the control over both the land they owned and the people who worked it. This was a necessity in the midst of the civil disorders, weak government and barbaric invasions that engulfed Europe in the 5th and 6th centuries. During this time the small farmers and peasants who worked the land exchanged their freedom and guaranteed their services in return for the protection of the landowners who were able to defend them with the military. With this agreement in place the poor and landless were given permanent access to plots of land on the manor where they could work and give the proceeds to the lords.

What did a manor look like?

The medieval manor house was built on a similar, but much smaller scale to the medieval castles.

  • The Great Hall of the Manor House – The hall was intended  for the main meeting and dining area and used by everyone who lived in the manor.
  • The Solar- Used for sleeping and private sitting room and used by the Lord of the Manor’s family.
  • The Garderobe – Intended for use as a toilet or latrine.
  • The Kitchen- They included cooking ovens for baking and huge fireplaces for smoking and roasting food. The kitchens were often connected to rooms called the Buttery and the Pantry.
  • The Buttery- The room in the castle called the Buttery was intended for storing and providing beverages.
  • The Pantry- For the storage of perishable food products.
  • Storerooms- There were often several Storerooms in the Manor House often located over the buttery and pantry. Used to store non-perishable kitchen items and products.
  • The Chapel- Used for prayer by all members of the household. The Lord of the Manor’s family sat in the upper part and the serfs occupied the lower part of the chapel.
  • Cruck House- Peasants lived in these houses. They had a wooden frame onto which was plastered wattle and daub. This was a mixture of mud, straw and manure. The straw added insulation to the wall while the manure was considered good for binding the whole mixture together and giving it strength. The mixture was left to dry in the sun and formed what was a strong building material.

What was life on the manor like?

Lord- The day started at dawn, mass would be attended and prayers would be said. The first meal of the day would then be served at around eleven o’clock. Lords would then attend to business matters related to his land. Complaints and disputes regarding tenants would be settled. The lord would then go out for his daily weapon practice. After, prayers would be said again and a meal would be eaten. In the afternoon the lord turned to hunting, hawking or inspecting the estate. Next an evening prayer would again be said and then supper in the manor house. After supper some entertainment would come from musicians, dancers, jugglers, acrobats or jesters. The time for bed was dictated by the time the Lord or Noble retired. Bedtime prayers would be said and the day would end.

Lady–  The daily life of a noblewoman started at dawn when Mass would be heard and prayers would be made. She would be served by her ladies in waiting who would assist her with dressing for the day. The first meal would then be eaten. After, she would be expected to oversee the education of the upper class girls who had sent to her household. Her life would change if her husband was absent. She would be expected to look after the finances of the manor and supervise the farming and settling of all disputes. After this the mid morning prayers would be said then a meal. In the afternoon she would carry out her housewifely duties including the supervision of meals and ensuring stores were sufficient. Leisure and spare time was spent on embroidery and dance practice. Evening prayer would be said and then supper in the Manor House. After supper she would watch the entertainment with her husband. Following, bedtime prayers would be said  and the day would end.

Peasant- The day started as early as 3 am. Breakfast would be eaten, usually pottage which was a thick soup made of vegetables and sometimes meat. Work in the fields or on the land started by dawn. This included cutting crops for harvest, planting seeds, ploughing, cutting grass and curing it for hay, creating boundaries and beating the stems and husks of plants to separate the grains or seeds from the straw. Outside work finished at dusk, working hours were therefore longer during the summer months. Women generally ate when her husband and children had finished and had little leisure time. After this bedtime prayers would be said and the day would end.

     Who worked on the manor?

The names and descriptions of the Medieval people who worked for the lord of the manor included the following:

  • Bailiff – A person of some importance who undertook the management of the manor.
  •  Reeve – A manor official appointed by the lord or elected by the peasants.
  • Serf – Another name for a peasant or tenant. Medieval Serfs were peasants who worked his lord’s land and paid him certain dues in return for the use of land. The dues were usually in the form of labor on the manor. Medieval serfs were expected to work for approximately 3 days each week.
  • Peasant or Villein – A peasant or villein was a low status tenant who worked as a farmer. They usually cultivated 20-40 acres of land.
  • Cottager: A low class peasant with a cottage, but with little or no land who generally worked as a simple laborer.
  • Servant: Servants were house peasants who worked in the lord of the manor’s house, doing the cooking, cleaning, laundering, and other household chores.

The manor’s rooms

The medieval manor house was built on a similar, but much smaller scale to the medieval castles.

  • The Great Hall of the Manor House – The hall was intended for the main meeting and dining area and used by everyone who lived in the manor house.
  • The Solar- Used for sleeping and private sitting room and used by the Lord of the Manor’s family.
  • The Garderobe – Intended for use as a toilet or latrine.
  • The Kitchen- They included cooking ovens for baking and huge fireplaces for smoking and roasting food. The kitchens were often connected to rooms called the Buttery and the Pantry.
  • The Buttery- The room in the castle called the Buttery was intended for storing and providing beverages, especially ale.
  • The Pantry- For the storage of perishable food products.
  • Storerooms- There were often several storerooms in the manor house often located over the buttery and pantry. They were used to store non-perishable kitchen items and products.
  • The Chapel- Used for prayer by all members of the household. The Lord of the Manor’s family sat in the upper part and the serfs occupied the lower part of the chapel.

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Bibliography:
Websites:
Trueman, C. (2000) “History Learning Site,” http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_manor_houses.htm
Alchin, L.K. (2008 ), “The Middle Ages”, www.middle-ages.org.uk
Page.L  and  Brin S. (1998) “Google Images”, http://www.google.com.au/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi
Kalif, W. (2007), “Medieval Castles”, http://medievalcastles.stormthecastle.com/
Rosmanitz, K. (1997) “English-Online”, http://www.english-online.at/history/middle-ages/life-in-the-middle-ages.htm
Harvey, G. (2005) “Wiki. Answer”, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_was_a_manor_house
Images:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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4 Comments on “Life on the Manor”

  1. weetbix7 says:

    EMEFA! your whole thing is amazing 🙂 you are so pro!

  2. bigem42 says:

    GOOD JOB EMEFA!!!!!!! LOVE THE DIARAMA!!

  3. priscillalan says:

    AWESOM DIORAMA!
    Nice profile picture 🙂

  4. kateru says:

    Emefa, your whole project is absolutely amazing!! Well done x 1000!!!