Looking after a Castle – Castle Upkeep!

Who were the workers that toiled away in ‘Castles’ to keep it in tip top shape?

Medieval castles were usually a complex affair.

A typical medieval castle housed a notable lord and doubled as a military fortification.

So the castle had to be manned by a large body of domestic servants to look after the household affairs as well as a sizable body of military troops to man the gates and be ready to accompany the lord to a battle at any time.

As a result, medieval castles came to house a large number of personnel, nearly all of them directly in the employ of the lord who owned the castle.

Most castles had the essential staff members such as those working in the kitchen, a steward, a chamberlain and a body of troops.

Larger castles had additional staff members such as a chancellor, a clerk and multiple messengers.

Household Maintenance

A medieval castle had a large household staff to look after domestic affairs.

Most of this staff was used in the upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the kitchen.

The kitchen was typically headed by the head cook who had a number of servants working under him.

It was the task of the cook to prepare daily meals for the household members and to have the meal served in the Great Hall.

Every once in a while, the cook was also tasked with preparing large feasts for the lord’s guests.

Apart from preparing and serving, procuring and storing food also came under kitchen affairs.

This was also done by the cook, usually in coordination with other staff members such as a butler and cellarer.

Food was stored in specific rooms such as pantry, buttery and cellar and each room, in turn, was given under the supervision of a specific staff member.

Caenarfon Castle in Wales

Caenarfon Castle was another castle in Wales commissioned by King Edward I during his military campaigning into Wales.

Castle Domestic Quarters Maintenance

Apart from the kitchen staff which was engaged with affairs related to food, some of the most important personnel in the employ of a medieval castle were directly in the service of the lord and his family.

These personnel were typically associated with the affairs in the domestic quarters and the private chambers of the lord.

Most notable among these was the Chamberlain who served the lord in his private chamber and looked after his miscellaneous affairs.

The Master of the Wardrobe was also directly connected to the lord in person.

The Steward was the head of the administration of other servants of the household, so he also directly reported to the lord.

Since these positions were of significant importance, they were filled by persons hailing from the nobility or gentry.

Compared to other servants, these positions were well paid and came with many perks.


Castle Security Maintenance

The security of a medieval castle was a major affair since castles were mostly meant to serve as military fortifications.

So they often housed a sizable body of troops at all times.

These troops, directly a part of the castle’s staff but more prestigious in their standing, were divided into different parts.

At the top of the military hierarchy were the knights who were well paid, served the lord on the battlefield while fighting on horseback and had prospects of promotion over time.

Next came the esquires who served the knights and finally, the gatekeepers were the regular guardians of the castle’s entrances.