As some of you may know, in August I dragged my family to England for a vacation, and then I dragged them to castles and museums. (I’m so mean.) Anyway, I had the good fortune to tour the restored apartments of Edward I at the Tower of London. A few days later I visited a peasant’s cottage at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.
I thought it might be helpful if I shared some of my photos with you. Edward I ruled from 1239 until his death in 1307 and the cottage is dated from 1310 so these pictures will give you an idea of the disparity between the rich and poor in the same period.
First, I’ll show you the king’s apartments. You’ll notice the walls are plastered and painted with a delicate ornate pattern. There is glass in the windows. Lead glass was commonly used in the living quarters of most castles, but only on the windows that faced into the bailey. Edward had his own personal chapel with stained glass windows, where he would have heard mass. His bed was luxurious even by today’s standards and the curtains would have been drawn, while he slept, to keep in the heat. He also has a fireplace in his bedroom with a chimney. The earliest known hearth with a chimney, in England, dates from 1185, but they weren’t commonly used until 15th or 16th Century.
The peasant lived in misery. The family would have slept together on the floor sharing blankets and body heat to keep the cold at bay. All the fixtures are basic and serve a purpose. Every minute of the day would have been taken with providing for the family’s meager needs. You’ll notice the rustic furniture, pieces of wood hammered together to meet their basic requirements. There is also a storage area in the roof beams. This would have been safe from rats and other vermin, and is a reminder of the hardships these people faced on a daily basis. It also reminds me of the nursery rhyme ‘Rock a Bye Baby.”
I hope you enjoyed my pictures.