Saturday, March 1, 2008

How did villagers live?

What were their houses like?

Most villagers, regardless of status, lived in poorly built houses that had to be completely renewed nearly every generation. That means if your father built the family home then you'd likely have to rebuild it to house your own family.
The commonest type of home was called a three-bay house with a single high-ceiling hall and three, fifteen foot square framed sections or bays. Dwellings lodged animals as well as human beings but the byre was usually partitioned off from the rest of the house. Thank goodness!
Light came in from a few small shuttered windows, although the poorest had no shutters, simply old sacking. Doors were left open during the day and children and animals wandered in and out.
Floors were of dirt, covered with straw or rushes. The home was heated and meals cooked on a central fire raised slightly on a stone hearth. Venting for the fire was through a hole in the roof and lacking a hole, the only escape for smoke was through windows and doors. The hall was usually black with smoke and the cat sitting by the fire frequently singed her fur!
The family ate their meals seated on benches or stools drawn up to a trestle table. They seldom had chairs.
When they bathed, which wasn't often, they used a barrel with the top removed. Carrying and heating water for the barrel was such a huge task that the family took turns bathing in the same water.
At night they slept on straw pallets. We've certainly come a long way from those days!

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