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Design Inspiration Article #1: So how do you feed your castle household? - the Castle Kitchen Comple

Discussion in 'General' started by Ubiqanon, Mar 11, 2015.

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This last post in this thread was made more than 31 days old.
  1. Ubiqanon Trainee Engineer

    This will (I hope) be the first installment of articles designed to provide you with inspiration on what to include in your Castle design / builds.

    Anyone can design and build a Great Hall, but can you ensure that your Great Hall has everything it needs to facilitate the the next big feast?

    Large castles functioned as self contained small villages. And as such there were a lot of mouths to feed to keep them functioning. This demand for food only increased for those castles at which permanent or semi permanent garrisons were maintained or attached. A happy castle is a well fed castle, so a considerable amount of functionality and space was given over to the preparation and storage of food.

    Here is a list of buildings or facilities that were typical of large medieval castles having to do with food storage and preparation. So when you design your castle, you might want to consider including these rooms if you are trying to build something as lifelike and realistic as possible: (or if you just need ideas for different rooms ;)).
    The Kitchen Complex:
    Food storage and preparation typically centered on the kitchen, (where prepared food was cooked) but storage and preparation of various food sources was often segmented into distinct rooms or facilities specific to the type of preparation required. As such, a typical kitchen complex also contained a buttery, dairy, pantry, larder, scullery, spicery, saucery, and sometimes these facilities were further divided based on their primary function, (for example you might have one scullery supporting baking + storage of bread – (a major dietary staple), and another used to prepare vegetables / meats etc.

    Kitchen: Primary function was the cooking of food, and as such contained all devices using heat / fuel (ovens, fire pits, etc). Due to risk of fire these buildings were often unattached to the hall buildings as early castle outbuildings were mostly made of wood & fire was a real threat. As construction of outbuildings shifted to stone (reducing the threat of fire), the kitchens were integrated into the general design of a castle, (typically located much closer to the dining hall.) Due to their central role in food preparation, Kitchens were often the building / room around which all other associated food prep buildings were attached or located. Ovens in kitchens supporting castle households (& large garrisons) were often large enough to roast several oxen at a time, (that's one big oven!) and during siege they would be converted to military use – keeping large cauldrons of boiling water at the ready, or heating buckets of sand (for use with murder holes), and for heating up projectiles (hot boulders can start fires when they hit wood!), etc. Kitchens could be very extensive, including multiple fire pits / ovens – some for smoking meats, others for roasting, while others were used specifically for baking. Later kitchens almost always had access to their own water supply. (Either from a well below or cistern above). For large castles that housed many soldiers on a semi permanent basis, there were often several kitchens and their related support buildings, (one for soldiers, one for the nobles). (Don't forget to include your spit wheels for your spit dogs!)
    Scullery: Attachment to, (or built within) a pantry that had access to water, (as well as ease of draining waste water) it often contained built in sinks, and was typically used for cleaning up after meals. Food preparation requiring considerable dissection and gutting (fish, eel, medium to small animal gutting) often was begun in the scullery, then moved into the pantry for final preparation, then into the kitchen for cooking. When you design your scullery, you should consider how this room both received water, and how it evacuated the waste water. (Sometimes waste water was just dumped out a nearby window, but sometimes it was drained through pipes into the moat or a nearby cess pond / pit.) This room should probably be furthest from the Great Hall, but still attached to the Kitchen, as it would have smelled pretty terrible. (Although back them everyone smelled pretty terrible, so they probably wouldn't have noticed.)
    Buttery (or Bottlery): A storage room specific to the purpose of keeping alcoholic beverages – wines, ales, brandies, etc, usually in barrels or ‘butts’ (thus the term buttery). This room was usually very secure, and the person who managed it, called the Butler, was typically a senior officer of the household to whom much trust and authority was given. This is the room where a lot of your barrels should go! It should also have some good security and limited access.
    Butlers Pantry: A room typically associated with stately homes and manor houses rather than castles – the butlers pantry was used to store and also polish house silver, as well as decant various alcoholic beverages. In later household’s butlers pantry’s would be used for the preparation of meals that required no cooking (sandwiches, etc).
    Dairy: A room specific to the purpose of storing cheeses and milk products – cream, butter, clotted cream, etc. This room, along with the larder, were typically built away from the kitchens which produces a near constant generation of heat. They were often at or below ground level, and were designed with special consideration to keep out vermin.

    Pantry: The room where food was prepared before cooking, and often where cooked food was stored. This was often the busiest room in the complex, as typically once food was in the oven, it only required being watched over. (There were no kitchen timers back then!) Once food was cooked it was typically returned to the pantry for final preparation or dressing, then brought to the dining hall. Plate was also stored in the pantry, but not silver. A typical Pantry included lots of counter top space, and storage for cooking utensils as well as breads and prepared meats (sausages / cold cuts). The pantry would be loaded with lots of jars and baskets that held the raw ingredients that would go into the days meals.
    Larder: Storage of uncooked meat and fish. Within fortified castles these were typically underground. They would contain shelves of thick stone upon which meat would be laid (thrawls)– the stone would keep the meat relatively cool. Ventilation was required to reduce spoilage. Special attention was given to construction considerations in order to reduce invasion by vermin. Large carcasses were often hung from the ceiling by meat hooks, and one of the daily tasks would be to come in and cut off any pieces that were starting to rot. Depending on the degree of rot, it would either go in to the daily soup, or to the dogs. Yum.
    Saucery: A dedicated food preparation area usually attached to a Pantry and Spicery where various sauces were prepared. In large households there was an officer assigned to the role of preparing specific sauces, and in some cases the recipes for them were kept as treasured secrets. A Saucery officer who could provide unique and savory sauces was in high demand, as typically most meat was subject to spoilage due to lack of refrigeration, therefore sauces which could mask the foul aroma and taste of spoilage were absolutely required to create appealing dishes. And if you wanted to attract visits from royalty, you had to have a good saucier.
    Spicery: As spices were typically rare and expensive, castles often had dedicated small storage rooms (as well as appointed officers whose function was to oversee procurement, utilization, and storage of spices) in which they were kept. These were usually located adjacent to the Saucery. Exposure to water was a serious threat to spice storage, so care was given to ensure these areas were kept dry year round, and as such were build sometimes adjacent to the backside of an oven. Salt was also kept here, and salt was almost never used in cooking. Salt was added to meals when served, at the table, in part because salt was a status symbol that showed off a noble's wealth. A rich noble could demonstrate his wealth by the amount of salt he made available at his table.
    Root Cellar: Used for long term fruit (apples) and vegetables (tubers) storage, and in medieval times they also stored processed & raw grains, such as flour from wheat, or raw barley, would be stored here. They were also at or below built below ground level to prevent exposure to extreme temperature, usually near the larder, buttery, dairy, etc.

    Scalding House: A distinct hybrid room in which large vats of boiling water were used to scald large carcases, which was thought to improve preservation. If a household produced many leather goods, (and garrisoned castles would certainly do so) then pigs and cows were often scalded prior to being skinned, as the process softened the skin and made hair removal much easier. Utensils requiring extra cleaning would also be occasionally cleaned in the scalding house. As people didn't take baths much during the Medieval period (excessive bathing was thought to be an affront to God) most people smelled awful, but this place smelled even worse. As such, it usually was built out by the Scullery, away from the great Hall. Again, consideration for fuel and both access to and disposal of (used) water is important for this building.

    Confectionery: A building / room, and specialization of cooking that developed in the mid to late medieval period, whose officers were entitled 'comfitmakers'. Sugar was a rare commodity, and like other such rare commodities, was typically only available to the wealthy lords. In the early medieval periods sugar was typically within the domain of the apothecary as it was believed to have unique medicinal qualities, but as trade expanded and sugar became more readily available, cooks who specialized in working with sugar, (producing 'sweetmeats' and comfits) began to gain importance, such that by the 18th century they were considered to be at the apex of the chef / food creation hierarchy. Working with sugar usually requires a lot of heat, consistently applied over time, and such required specialized utensils. Here is an actual list of the specific utensils uses, and you can see why this work required its own unique room or facility.

    “First of all you must have a deepe bottomed bason of fine cleane brasse or latton, with two eares of Iron to hand it with two severall cordes over a bason or earthen pan with hote coales. You must also have a broad pan to put ashes in, and hot coales upon them. You must also have a cleane latton bason to melt your sugar in, or a faire brazen skillet. You must have a fine brason ladle, to let run the Sugar upon the seedes. You must also have a brasen slice, to scrape away the sugar from the hanging bason if neede require”.

    Poultry: People in Medieval times ate pretty much anything and everything they could, and that included almost every kind of bird you could imagine. In large households, you would often have an officer and specialized facility for the storage and preparation of meals using some kind of fowl. Poultry preparation took a lot of time, each bird needed to be plucked and dressed (gutted, head, neck & talons removed), and if the meal required smaller fowl such as pigeon (a favorite) then this would need to be done for dozens of birds, and more if a large feast was on. A typical large feast would have several courses that used cooked poultry in some form or fashion.
    Have fun adding these new rooms to your Castle!

    The Castle Learning Center. www.castles-of-britain.com

    Woolgar, C. M. "The Great Household in Late Medieval England" New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
    & Good old Wikipedia
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2015
  2. Legofreak Apprentice Engineer

    very neat stuff. I might consider some of this when designing my first castle.
  3. Ubiqanon Trainee Engineer

    Given your name, you should check this out....


    I think this is going to be my next build...
  4. Me 10 Jin Apprentice Engineer

    Very nice! And of course, after your hearty feast, you'll want to make sure that your castle is equipped with garderobes and/or a cesspit.
  5. Cydramech Junior Engineer

    All good stuff, we just need the ingame stuff now to create the above.
  6. lBurnsl Trainee Engineer

    I try to dynamically build all my worlds, in most of the creative games I play. If the peasants are eating bread, I make sure they have the fields, mills, grinders and bakery to support it. I don't just build a cart, I build a workshop where the cart is built. Houses don't come from anywhere, I build a small logging camp, and so on. I play in the style of Anno 1404/Age of Empires/Banished, building a settlement up from the ground.

    I love this information and will be following your articles, thank you.
  7. Ubiqanon Trainee Engineer

    Added: Scalding House, Confectionery, Poultry (to original post)

    Missed them the first time around.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2015
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