Ever fancied yourself perched on a throne, presiding over a medieval court from the comfort of your castle? It’s a daydream that’s crossed nearly everyone’s mind at some point. But before you trade your modern comfort for stone walls and drawbridges, it’s time for a reality check.
Reality Check…coming Up
Here’s a little glimpse of what life was truly like in those grand castles of yore – a lifestyle that was less ‘feasting on the finest venison’ and more ‘hoping you don’t get lost on the way to the loo.
1. The Big Chill
Consider this a medieval twist on the Ice Bucket Challenge. Castles, for all their grandeur, weren’t exactly bastions of warmth and comfort. These stony giants were as tough to heat as it was to breach their formidable walls. And in summer? Welcome to your very own stone-baked sauna.
Fun Fact: Fireplaces, the unsung heroes of medieval heating, had to work overtime. A forest’s worth of wood was practically incinerated just to keep Jack Frost from nipping at your nose.
2. You Shall Not Pass (Without a Map)
Castles, as it turns out, were not designed by convenience enthusiasts. Need a midnight snack from the kitchen? Prepare for an epic journey through a labyrinth of corridors, winding staircases, and concealed passages. GPS not included.
Fun Fact: These designs weren’t created to perplex residents but rather to confuse would-be invaders. Sadly, this didn’t make navigating to the loo any easier.
3. Splish Splash, Taking an Hour-Long Bath
Think drawing a bath after a long day is a chore? Castle dwellers had to heat a small pond’s worth of water, marshaling an army of servants and a bonfire to rival a festival’s.
Fun Fact: Baths were such a grand production, they were taken communally and infrequently. The original hot tub party, if you will.
4. Social Status – Written in Stone
In a castle, the architecture itself was a constant, in-your-face reminder of social hierarchy. The lords and ladies resided in grand chambers at the top, while the servants lived and worked in the less glamorous quarters below.
Fun Fact: The term “upper crust” actually comes from medieval times. The lord and lady would receive the top, well-baked portion of the bread loaf, while the lower-status members of the household would eat the burnt bottom – a very literal representation of one’s place in the social hierarchy!
5. Seasonal Cuisine, Whether You Like It or Not
Those accustomed to year-round avocados would be in for a shock. Castle cuisine was strictly seasonal, so winter salads were off the table, literally. Culinary creativity was, shall we say, a necessary virtue.
Fun Fact: Castle denizens couldn’t nip to the store for milk, so they maintained their own gardens, orchards, and livestock. You wanted fresh? You got fresh.
6. Drafty and Not in the Quaint Way
Castles were masters of the breeze. Unfortunately, that meant the cold, gusty kind that likes to whip through corridors. Those stone walls might’ve kept out marauders, but they did little to halt the wind’s invasion.
Fun Fact: Tapestries were hung on walls not just for aesthetics but as medieval insulation. A splash of color and a draft excluder in one – now that’s efficient.
7. The Sounds of Silence? Hardly
If echoey footsteps and the clanking of armor are music to your ears, a castle is your symphony. Every sound was amplified by the grand stone chambers, making a castle a surprisingly noisy place to live.
Fun Fact: These echoes had an unexpected perk – they doubled as a security system. Any sneaky invaders would have a hard time tiptoeing unnoticed!
8. It’s All Downhill for Waste
Without the wonders of modern plumbing, waste disposal in a castle was a simple matter of gravity. Garderobes, essentially holes in the wall, were the unsophisticated predecessors of today’s bathrooms.
Fun Fact: Garderobes were strategically placed on the enemy-facing side of the castle. Talk about biological warfare!
9. Limited Lumens
Forget mood lighting; castles took dim lighting to another level. Candles, the principal light source, were far from the bright, energy-saving LEDs we have today. A romantic, if slightly gloomy, ambiance was the norm.
Fun Fact: The term “chandelier” originated in medieval times. These cross-shaped candle holders were designed to maximize the limited light.
10. A Bug’s Life
Castles, though majestic to us, were the equivalent of a bug-sized metropolis. They played host to all manner of insects and small animals, thanks to plenty of food and an abundance of dark, hidden corners.
Fun Fact: Castle cats weren’t just for companionship. They had a full-time job keeping the rodent population in check. Their utility was such that they were legally protected in some places.
11. Brace Yourselves, Sieges Are Coming
In a castle, your home was also your fortress, which meant living with the constant possibility of a siege. Getting home insurance must have been a nightmare.
Fun Fact: Castles were riddled with cunning defensive features, such as murder holes and arrow slits. Not exactly the cozy home features we look for today.
12. R&R is MIA
For those who think a castle was a place of endless feasts and merriment, think again. Between managing vast estates, maintaining law and order, and preparing for potential sieges, relaxation was rare.
Fun Fact: The idea of a vacation was foreign to medieval nobility. Leisure activities were sprinkled in with work, not a break from it.
13. Invasion of Personal Space
If you’re the type who needs “me time”, castle life would have tested your patience. These fortresses were populous, teeming with servants, soldiers, and visiting nobility. Solitude was as scarce as hen’s teeth.
Fun Fact: The ‘Lord’s Solar’ was one of the few private spaces within a castle. It was a sanctuary for the lord and his family, though it wouldn’t exactly fit our modern definition of a private suite.
14. Privacy? Not in This Castle!
If you’re fond of cozy, secluded nooks for a good night’s sleep, castle life would have given you a rude awakening. The notion of private bedrooms was as alien as the idea of flying cars. Servants often bedded down in close proximity to their lords and ladies, making privacy a luxury even royalty couldn’t afford.
Fun Fact: The ‘Great Hall’ wasn’t just a venue for feasts and festivities. At night, it transformed into a giant dormitory. The lord and lady might’ve had their own chamber, but the concept of “personal space” was laughably loose.
15. Your Home Is Your Castle…and Your Full-Time Job
Think spring cleaning is tough? Try keeping a castle in shape. Castles, those mighty stone fortresses, may seem indestructible, but they were as high-maintenance as a celebrity diva. Battling against erosion, dampness, and the general wear and tear of medieval life, keeping your castle standing was a ceaseless task.
Fun Fact: The unsung heroes of the castle were the ‘Castle Crew.’ This band of skilled workers was the medieval equivalent of your plumber, electrician, and roofer combined. Their duty? Ensuring the castle remained both a symbol of power and a functional living space.
20 Real Castles You Can Still Actually Visit
Stepping into a castle is like stepping into a time machine. These stone storytellers, once the epicenters of regal realms, now stand as silent witnesses to a bygone era. They invite us to journey back to a time of gallant knights, ruling monarchs, and fairy-tale charm. (Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale?) Here are 20 such castles, each with its unique tale to tell, that you can actually still visit.
No Passport, No Problem: You Don’t Need One to Vacation in These Countries
If you’re an American citizen traveling out of the country, you have to have a passport to be allowed into somewhere else, right? While that’s mostly true, there are some exceptions. Some are independent countries, while others are U.S. territories that largely operate independently.
Note: Before you visit any of these places, make sure you look into what the entry requirements are. For example, you may need an enhanced ID or proof of certain vaccinations.
Here’s What Travel Was Like 100 Years Ago
Travel has definitely improved over the past 100 years. And by the way, if you’re thinking 100 years ago was back in the 1800s, you might be showing your age…100 years ago was 1923 and Americans were hitting the road in their new-fangled automobiles. Here are ten things you might expect if you traveled across America 100 years ago.
Facts About the Oregon Trail That Prove Most of Us Would Have Never Made It
Imagine embarking on a journey spanning 2,000 grueling miles, filled with treacherous river crossings, food rationing, relentless weather, and the constant threat of disease. Welcome to the life of a pioneer on the Oregon Trail!
Here’s What It Was Really Like to Drive a Model T Ford
Tired of driving down easy-street in your super comfy modern car? Well, have no fear because the Model T is here! Let’s take a ride down memory lane with a humorous look at what traveling in a Model T was like when it first came out.
This post was produced and syndicated by Our Woven Journey. Featured Image Credit: Ironika/Shutterstock
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.