Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Past

Cover  -  from an early twentieth century illustrated edition of this well known Christmas poem
attributed to Clement Clarke Moore (American) - first published 1823.

Page one.

Page two.

Victorian Christmas card illustrations collaged on a piece of wrapping paper (modern).

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for visiting

Shared with        Saturday's Critters     I Heart Macro     Recuerda mi Corazon
                         Mosaic Monday

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Medieval Castle - Prayers, Banquets and en suite Latrines

The village of Dirlton, East Lothian, from the castle grounds.

Close to the castle is the dovecot, built around 1500 to provide both eggs and meat for the household.
Sometimes hundreds of young pigeons were eaten at banquets.

The interior is especially beautiful, there's a feeling of entering an Italian Renaissance chapel.
The nesting boxes housed up to 2000 pigeons which  flew out and in through a circular opening in the roof.

The tower on the left is part of the original Dirleton Castle built by John de Vaux in the mid 1200s.
The de Vaux family first settled Scotland in the 1100s at a time when landless Anglo-French Knights
were offered land by King David I in exchange for their allegiance to the Scottish crown.

Entrance doorway originally approached via a drawbridge.

Water colour reconstruction by Andrew Spratt

John de Vaux was steward (keeper of the royal household) to Marie de Cloucy,queen consort of Alexander II.
 In these days there was much coming and going between Scotland and France
and it is thought that Dirleton was modeled on Chateau de Cloucy, the queen's family
home in Northern France,which de Vaux would almost certainly have visited.

The inner courtyard.

The castle construction was redesigned a number of times during it's 400 year use.
Some changes were made as a result of war damage and others to fit the needs and fashion of
the period. A show of wealth and status was essential in these dangerous and unstable times.

Lord de Vaux's main room in the old tower.

A vaulted and ribbed stone ceiling supported the chamber above. The ceiling and floors were plastered
and painted,a large fire burned in the fireplace,richly coloured tapestries and heavy curtains covered the walls and the floor was strewn with rushes end scented herbs.

Next door was the lords private bedchamber and latrine closet.

His latrine closet.

Site of the old ovens in the cellar bakehouse.

The well : water could be drawn from both ground and first floor levels.

Cellar store rooms beside the bakehouse where grain and other provisions were stored.
The vaulted ceiling supports the floor of the Great Hall above.

The Great Hall

In the 14th century, ownership of the castle passed by marriage to the Halliburton family. They were
responsible for the building of the Great Hall and other modernization of the time.

Food was brought in from the kitchen doorway on the left. The Minstrels Gallery would
have been situated above the central carved stone buffet.

The buffet on which the family silver was displayed.

While banqueting, the family and important guests sat on a raised stage at the opposite end of the hall.

Swan was commonly served and displayed as in the above information board illustration.
Pieces of stale bread were used as plates.

The tables, composed of boards on trestles, were easily moved to clear the floor for dancing.

In the Chapel this niche would probably have held a shrine.

The day was divided into eight canonical hours,each period representing a time of prayer.
People conducted their work and personal lives in the breaks between.

The priest had a private room and latrine closet close to the chapel.

The numerous window seats would not have been cold and uninviting as they are now,but adorned with
cushions curtains and hangings. Leaded glass was expensive and a sign of wealth.
In winter, fires in almost every room kept the inhabitants warm.

Brightly coloured tapestries were a medieval interior design must have for rich families.
Woven in wool, silk and gold threads, few survive, mostly because they were burned,stolen or
 cut up to extract the gold.

We are now nearing the Winter Solstice and darkness falls early.
On the left a visitor reads an information board in the fading light.
My friend Louise and I, in need of hot coffee, decide to head for the village inn. 

Window seat at the V.I.P end of the Great Hall.

After 1600 the castle ceased to be a domestic residence and in 1650 was extensively damaged
by cannon. It passed into state care in 1923 and is currently maintained by Historic Scotland.

Seagulls circle, as they have done for centuries, and the smoke trail from a passing plane
brings us back into the twenty-first century.

Thank you for visiting

Shared with       Mosaic Monday      Our World Tuesday     Skywatch Friday
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