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Building a Castle: Private Rooms and Guest Accommodation

Even in a stone castle many of the buildings were wooden. But the Lord and his family and honoured guests would have private rooms built into the towers, gatehouse or above the great hall. Everyone else slept in the great hall, on benches if they were lucky or on the floor.

Providing well-appointed accommodation for noble and royal visitors was a statement of power and status. Whereas the rest of the castle was purely functional, the private rooms had fine dressed stone around the ornate windows (those that looked onto the courtyard which were not vulnerable from outside), doors and ceilings.

You can see from the pictures above and below, of Marten’s Tower at Chepstow Castle, that the exterior windows are merely arrow slits, but the interior windows, looking onto the bailey, were larger and more intricate. Also the entrance has a fine doorway.

The imposing Caesar’s Tower at Warwick Castle has a stone vault ceiling on every floor and ornate windows. It also has machicolations and two levels of parapets at the top.

The private rooms and the chapel were also often plastered and painted. Unfortunately time and weathering have destroyed most of it, but traces of colour can sometimes be found. Here is an artist’s impression of what Oystermouth Castle chapel may have looked like.

[adapted from The Medieval Castle Haynes Manual by Charles Phillips]

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at