Sunday, 20 January 2013

Medieval Furnishings - Reconstruction in Dover Castle

The royal chambers in Dover Castle have been marvellously recreated to give a flavour of what life might have been like for a privileged few in the twelfth century.  Below are some pictures from our visit in the summer.  Some of the scenes in the Knights of Champagne could have taken place in rooms like these.

Colours are dazzlingly bright, even garish, and the overall impression is one of luxury.   These are apartments which were designed to impress.  There were virtually no private spaces, the King would carry on some of the business of government even when in his bedchamber!
 This chamber has been laid out as though ready for a twelfth century banquet.  Note the knights' shields above the wall-hangings, and the larger tapestry at the end.
Here's a glimpse into the king's bedchamber.  Wall-hangings, murals and furniture are brightly painted.  As the bedchamber is so large, the curtains around the bed would have been necessary to stop draughts, as well as ensure a small measure of privacy.
The cross-framed camping stool next to the bed is similar to one in the medieval palace in the Tower of London.  It's a reminder of the peripatetic nature of court life.  To ensure the smooth running of his government, the king and his courtiers were constantly on the move.
The ships on this mural are reminiscent of those on the Bayeux Tapestry....
Here's a dazzlingly painted spindle chair, with a nearby chess set laid out for the next game...

Painted linen press

Painted coffer with elaborate iron banding, locks and hinges,
again ready for quick moves to the next castle...

The king's hall

On the left is an early example of a lighthouse -
the Dover lighthouse dates from Roman times!
(I know the lighthouse isn't strictly speaking part of the medieval reconstruction, but I love the idea of a lighthouse going so far back in time...)
For more about Dover Castle see here.

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