The Medieval Manor — Putting the Pieces Together

— Katherine Cantos


     Your wagon finally stops at the town gate. You step out and feel the gravel’s tension underneath the soles of your feet. You look around. The 3rd field is being harvested to your left. Peasants are busily cooking and rushing around. The deep green trees surround the entire land. Your heart flutters for a second when you see home. The beautiful structure in the distance composed of pale tan stone with ivy crawling over it brings back warm memories. You are back home, the manor.

The Manor

     You have probably gotten a bit of an idea of what a medieval manor is like if you have seen costume dramas such as: Pride and Prejudice, Sense ans Sensibility, Emma, Ever After, Ella Enchanted as well as Sherlock Holmes.
     A medieval manor is an area of land owned by a lord or baron/baroness. It usually contains a small village, 3-field rotation system, gardens and a manor house with servants quarters. (farming lands).
Size often indicated the wealth of the manor owner.

The Medieval Manor Village

     The village often consisted of the following: peasant houses for living; a stable/barn, a tithe barn; a house of the bailiff (where taxes were collected); a house of reeve (supervisor and ensures acceptable farm work), a church — often including a graveyard; and a miller.
     Villages often had a stream that supplied them with water, which they kept in a stone well. A pillory was often used as a punishment enforced by the reeve or someone of higher status.
The 3-field rotation system surrounded the village.

What is the 3-field rotation system?

The 3-field rotation system was a system used by farmers in which two fields were cultivated and the third was left to fallow (left unsown for a period of time in order to restore its fertility for later use).

What is a manor house?

Athelhampton House

Athelhampton House in England

A manor house is a country house that was referred to as the centre of the manor. It is where the wealthy Lord and their servants live.

     The term Manor House is sometimes applied to country houses which belonged to gentry families, even if they were never administrative centres of a manor *(Source b).
Château or Manoir are two main terms the French used for manor house.
     The manor house stood separate from the rest of the village. The type of manor depended on the wealth of the lord and his family. For example, the wealthier manors ha
d many more luxuries than those in poorer manors. Poorer manors tended to be made of  other materials such as wood. Wealthier manors were more likely to be made from stone.
     Most manors composed of a:
— Great Hall & Kitchen (inc. pantry, larder and buttery)

The great hall is the main, grand room in a manor. It is where people dine and where the servants sleep. Manor court trails were also held in the great hall. The great hall was usually separated from the kitchen with a wooden or stone corridor to assure a lower fire risk

to the main part of the building as well as to keep out the odours, smoke and noise from the great hall.
     The kitchen was constructed of either wood or stone and usually had a clay oven, a basin. Near
the kitchen was the pantry. Hanging above large cauldrons or pots were spits. There was also common cutlery and utensils such as: forks, assorted knives, spoons, ladles, graters and kettles. Food was stored in the pantry.
     A larder is a cooled room essential for storing food prior to use.
     The buttery was a small room where beer was kept and where the servants usually ate. (Right) Painting of a medieval kitchen by Vincenzo Campi.
— A Solar

     A solar was a large upstairs room where the family of the lord would live. They slept and relaxed in the solar. This room was often lit by large windows. The Solar often ended up evolving into the Lord and Lady’s bed chamber or was kept as a solar and bed chambers were built-in as well.

— Bed Chambers

Later-built manor houses usually had individual bed chambers.

— Garderobe
     Basically a toilet.
— Storerooms

Fortification

     Manors often had some form of fortification. In some, it was walls or fortifications enclosing the town. Manor houses sometimes were surrounded by a moat with drawbridges and watchtowers.

A well-fortified manor — indicates wealthy owners.

What were buildings made of?

Village houses were made of plastered wattle and daub with a thatch roof. Wattle is a woven lattice of wooden strips. Daub was made of sand, clay, animal excrement, wet soil and dirt. The floors were often lined with straw.Their windows were simply wooden shutters that could open and close. This allowed the people inside to see out rather than people from the outside looking in. These houses had no running water or washing basins.

Manor houses were mostly made of stone and their windows of glass. Mattresses stuffed with straw were all they had for a bed. This caused issues in regards to parasites like fleas and lice.

Understanding a manor

I have made a visual interpretation of a medieval manor during the middle ages around the 7th and 8th century, situated in Normandy (modern day France). It contains the main village, the manor house and 3-field rotation. It displays the common layout of a medieval manor ruled by a feudal lord. It also contains a stream that would supply the village with water.
Centre part of the village

Centre part of the village including the tithe barn, house of bailiff, and common house.

The Village

The Village of the Manor

     The tithe barn is where the peasants deposited 1/10 of all they produced for use by the church. (Source 1)
     The house of bailiff is where the bailiff (someone who undetook the management of the manor) lived and where the taxes were collected/kept by the bailiff.

Common Houses across the stream

Manor House

This Manor House is made of Stone (actually paper…). The doors are made of heavy Oak. The elevated garden beds with willow-woven sides are to the side of the manor house. They grow vegetables and Herbs.

Other Areas

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The Medieval Manor had many components to it, that made it a good area to live, farm and work.. Thanks for reading!

Sources: (Including date of information retrieval in bold)

a) Saldais, M & Smith, R & Young, D, (2006), “Humanities Alive History 1, Jacaranda Learning Essentials(10/06/12).

b) “Castles and Manor Houses Resources”, (2010), Manor Houses, www.castlesandmanorhouses.com. (7/06/12).*

c) “History Learning Site”, Medieval Peasants & Medieval Manor Houses, (2011), (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_peasants.htm. (9/06/12).

d) “Annenburg Foundation”, (2010), Middle Ages (Homes), http://www.learner.org/interactives/middleages/homes.html, (10/06/12).

e) “History on the Net Group”, (2000), Medieval Life — The Manor, http://historyonthenet.com/Medieval_Life/manor.htm, (11/06/12).

f) “Timelines.tv”, (2010), The Medieval Manor, http://timelines.tv/index.php?t=0&e=1, (12/06/12)

Image Sources:

Image 1 (Diagram of medieval manor) — “Big site of History”, (2012),  http://bigsiteofhistory.com/manorialism-the-early-middle-ages-in-western-europe/manors, (9/06/12).

Image 2 (Athelhampton House) — “Wikimedia Commons”, (2010), http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Athelhampton_House__geograph.org.uk_-_172336.jpg, (8/06/12).

Image 3 (Painting of Kitchen by Vincenzo Campi) — “Web Gallery of Art”, (2012), Medieval Kitchen, http://www.wga.hu/framese.html?/html/c/campi/vincenzo/2kitchen.html, (10/06/12).

Image 4 (Fortified manor) — “Farming UK”, (2011), Manor Farm Cottages, http://www.farminguk.com/Accommodation/Burton-Manor-Farm-Cottages_878.html, (7/06/12).

Decorative Image Sources

Both from Source 2 (http://www.castlesandmanorhouses.com/manorhouses.htm)

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One Comment on “The Medieval Manor — Putting the Pieces Together”

  1. GOOD JOB KATHERINEEE! ~~ 🙂 so proo ~~