Life in a Medieval Village

Learn about the Lives of People in a Medieval Village

In medieval times most of the population lived in medieval villages. A Nobleman was usually the most important person in a medieval village and it was commonly referred to as the ‘Lord of the Manor’.

It was the medieval Lord who owned all the land within a medieval village.


The peasants living in a medieval village had to be given permission from a lord to be able to work on any of his land and peasants called villeins had to work part-time for the Lord of the Manor.

Some peasants who were called freemen got a slightly better deal as they could pay money or give food to the Lord for their land.


The most common peasant of the medieval period was the Serf who had little rights and was tied to the land, meaning that he could not leave. Serfs toiled away from dawn till dusk in the fields of the manor estate growing crops.


Layout of a Medieval Village

Commonly a castle or manor house would be overlooking or well postioned within the village where a nobleman would live known as ‘Lord of the Manor. The Lord of the manor would often go hunting on the fields around his manor.


Near to the town would usually be a windmill where medieval people living in the medieval village would be grinding grain that would be consumed by the people living in and around the manor estate.


Most medieval villages had an animal pound where stray animals were kept, there was usually a fee to release them.


No self-respecting village would be complete without a medieval church and there was usually a priest’s house nearby.


Lovely Church and example of Gothic Architecture – Salisbury Cathedral Salisbury which is a cathedral city in Wiltshire

Most medieval villages would commonly also have the following amenities

  • Village Green
  • Water well for fresh Drinking Water
  • Stables for Horses
  • Streams in which to Fish
  • Blacksmith Workshop
  • Carpenters House or Worshop
  • Bee-Keeper and BeehivesĀ 
  • A Medieval inn where medieval people could drink away all their problems with a jug of ale

Life in a Medieval Village *Farming

Most manor estates in villages in medieval England used the three field method of farming adpoted from ancient China, two fields could be planted with wheat, barley, vegetablesĀ  amd one field was left empty (fallow)

The reason for this was that was always a need to have one spare field available for planting the following year.


Medieval Manor Estate

These fields were divided up into sections for different families to work on and grow their own crops. Usually a medieval family would have more than one section of the field in which to grow crops.


Life in a Medieval Village *Peasants Homes

Medieval peasants living in a medieval villages lived in cottages which were fairly basic, there was no glass in the windows and they usually had bare floors.

In the thatched roof of a medieval peasant home would be a smoke hole that released the smoke from cooking on the stone fireplace.

The building structure of a medieval peasants home was a timber frame, and the walls were made using a technique called wattle and daub which was basically a covering of twigs with mud and straw.


Medieval people would sleep on straw mattresses and animals would live in stables or inside the house. Tools and equipment were commonly hanging on the walls, food for winter was stored in the roof area. And clothes were kept in wooden chests.

Life in a Medieval Village *Food

Medieval people living in a medieval village including peasants had a reasonable diet that included bread, fruit, vegetables, porridge and stew, this was usually accompanied by a drink of water and beer.

Commonly a large pot of stew called pottage would be on hand and consumed throughout the day.


Peasant farmers who had cows and could make cheese usually sold this at local markets due to the price that they could obtain for these luxury items.

Life in a Medieval Village *Medieval Fairs

Medieval fairs were commonly held on the village green at least once a year and were fun events that medieval people looked forward to all year.

Travelling merchants would arrive at these medieval fairs bringing with them various items to sell including clothing and food, the merchants would also buy items from the medieval villages to sell themselves in the future.


Medieval Maypole dances were popular at medieval fairs

There was plenty of entertainment at medieval fairs such as

  • Jugglers
  • Wrestling games
  • Dancing Bears
  • Magicians
  • Musician

and others who all entertain the crowds.