Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Resources » Research

Castle Design



User avatar
509 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 74
Reviews: 509
Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:27 am
View Likes
Jaybird says...



Castle Design



The next chapter chunk in my novel The Three Lockets involves the protagonist, Cass, being given a tour of a castle. The one problem I'm encountering while trying to plan out this tour is my limited knowledge of what every good castle should have. The one castle that I've visited was unfortunately much smaller and more modern than the one I have in mind, so I'm still trying to figure out what should be shown in the tour.

What should every good castle have? I'm mainly looking for different rooms and locations, but any suggestions would be appreciated! If it helps, the kingdom's colors are gold and purple, with an excess of golden decorations in the throne room.

Thank you for whatever help you can give!
Magestorrow → Jaybird
  





User avatar
128 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 9200
Reviews: 128
Wed Jan 30, 2019 3:12 am
View Likes
soundofmind says...



I'm no castle expert, but the first things to come to mind are rooms that showed up in like, Beauty and the Beast lol, or even the variety of rooms in clue, even though that takes place in more of a mansion.

There could be a ballroom, dining room, library, study, hall, kitchen, cellar/basement, or a conservatory/sunroom. I think different lounge rooms/living room-type situations. I picture rich people in fancy dresses sitting around to listen to somebody play a mediocre piano piece.

This site has some cool info and pics of castle floorplans and just how they're built and what they look like. Of course... I found it in a quick google search and only skimmed it, but the images at least look helpful LOL.

Normally castles have at least two levels, and generally, I figure the ones that would be used for hosting people would be down below and the more personal ones would be up top. Bedrooms are obviously included but maybe there's other kinds of rooms specific to your characters. I imagine that one scene in Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth just walking through a room filled with statues/art. Sometimes people just have rooms to show off their nice/fancy things! Like a mini museum LOL!

Some castles have prison towers, or just towers in general, so you could also throw a tower in there.

At the moment that's all I got for ya but hopefully that gives you some?? Ideas?
I am a super duper pooper! : )
  





User avatar
113 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Other
Points: 24
Reviews: 113
Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:44 pm
View Likes
Featherstone says...



*rubs hands together*

I'm no pro on castles but something that's often left out is the hunting aspect of royalty. That was a horrible sentence - basically, what I mean to say, is that hunting was huge for the nobles. So, aside from the stables, there'd probably also be a kennel and a mew (that'd be hawk chambers in case I haven't mentioned it before). I could go on for like a million years on medieval falconry and hawking but like, that stuff should be there if you're keeping accurate to medieval Europe.

Also the servant's quarters and the barracks would be in the mix, since soldiers and servants are a must-have in a big castle. Also, the kitchens! Seems obvious but because it's kind of minor I, at least, often forget it. Dining hall, too.

If I get more ideas I'll come back lol, that's all I've got for now.
"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost."

Avatar by Kaenith
  





User avatar
16 Reviews



Gender: Gender fluid
Points: 9798
Reviews: 16
Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:29 pm
View Likes
AlexOfLight says...



I too am not an expert at castles, but medieval castles aren't palaces, they are actually fortresses and tend to be drafty, damp, and there isn't glass in the windows. They also don't look like the castle in Beauty and the Beast(That was a palace I think).

Here is a link to an article that goes more in depth:
https://owlcation.com/humanities/What-L ... iddle-Ages
Everything is awesome! Including owls, swords, and revenge :twisted: !
  





User avatar
286 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 16319
Reviews: 286
Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:44 pm
View Likes
AstralHunter says...



I'm hardly an expert, but I'm happy to offer any help I can! If you have any specific questions, feel free to tag me and I'll respond. For now, I'll keep it simple, since I also have something else that I'd like to mention.

So, if you want to populate a castle with rooms, your first order of business should be to decide what kind of castle it is. All of them will have at least some fortifications if they're built in pre-modern times, but even so, those that are actually expected to defend against attacks will emphasise practicality over comfort (even though they could still be perfectly comfortable - just not as much as, say, a palace). In the latter case, I firstly recommend looking up fortifications, since all of these will have certain requirements.

The garrison could reside within the castle, but usually, the soldiers will stay in barracks outside it. They will also have their own armouries and supply buildings, but there will nevertheless be an armoury and probably supply rooms inside the castle as well. There will always be at least one cellar and pantry/storeroom, and these are always close to the kitchen. Any essential staff and important people will have their quarters inside the castle, but some of the staff may also live outside it.

Now, since this is both a castle wherein dignitaries (presumably the royal family) live and which must be defended in case of a siege, all the above-mentioned war-related rooms will be present. In addition to these, you will have a grand entrance hall, potentially with sweeping staircases leading to higher floors and such. From what I've seen, the entrance hall often leads to the throne room, but this is not a given. The many corridors running through the castle may be broader or narrower depending on where it is and how likely it is that an important person will pass through it. Do use antechambers where necessary, as a small room leading to a larger room is great for creating the impression of importance.

For the dignified inhabitants, you have a dining hall, although this might also just be the throne room. The soldiers have their own mess hall, and the staff usually eat in the servants' hall or in their quarters. It's essential to keep in mind that contact between the dignitaries and the soldiers and regular staff are to be limited as much as possible. However, also keep in mind that there might be smaller dining rooms for the guests and dignitaries to ensure privacy. This will be especially true for somebody like the king and queen.

There are many halls, parlours, and rooms of entertainment in a castle like this, but they may very well only be illuminated by artificial light. Castles can become cold and dark, so sunrooms or balconies will have to be present somewhere, and if it's too cold for either of those, then expect many fireplaces, hearths, and braziers.

There are some rooms I left out, but I'm sure you can find them when you research castles on your own. For now, my greatest piece of advice to you is to look into the staff of a Medieval manor as well. This will help you more than I can express! Ignore the administrative staff like reeves, since this focuses on a castle, not a manor/manor house, so look up the grounds and household staff instead. I'll enspoiler a summary of the most important roles.

Spoiler! :
First off, because a castle is massive, the king cannot oversee all its grounds and military staff. The captain of guards will be in charge of all military personnel and report to the king. The steward will act as head of the rest of the staff, with the grounds staff reporting to him, and reporting in turn to the king. The household staff also report to him, but depending on the queen's interest in her castle's affairs, they may report to her as well or instead.

Grounds staff
• head gardener - the person to whom all garderners report and who holds responsibility for the entire garden
• stable master - the person to whom people like stablehands report and who holds responsibility for the stables and horses
• gamekeeper - the person responsible for the nearby forest in which the king goes on hunting trips with his company, to whom the keepers of any animals used to assist in these hunts report

Household staff
• butler - the person to whom all footmen, hallboys, and valets (basically all male staff) report, and who holds responsibility for the dining room, wine cellar, pantry, and the main floor
• housekeeper - the person to whom all housemaids (parlour, chamber, laundry, etc.) report, and who holds responsibility for the cleaning of the residence
• cook - the person to whom all kitchen maids report and who holds responsibility for the kitchen


If you truly want to impress your readers, showing them that you know not only which rooms a castle has, but what staff it has too, will do the trick. Again, if you have any questions, ask away!


EDIT: I am not at all surprised two more people have posted since I started writing this. That's why I said I'd keep it "simple", but thought against promising "short". XD
But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
- Paul the Apostle

Spring has returned! Winter is over, and BrumalHunter is no more!
  





User avatar
15 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 46
Reviews: 15
Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:05 pm
View Likes
Baezel says...



One thing I haven't seen mentioned is the question of where is your story set?

My Scottish castles are very different from the French Palaces, which are different from the Aztec Temples and the structures of the Ottoman Empire. They also vary massively with time periods.

I generally associate "castle" with the ones I've grown up with, and so that's what I'll discuss. However, in this thread I've seen a lot of reference to what I think of as the French palaces (literally Beauty and the Beast). My description will not suit these, but google things like Versailles palace. You'll probably be able to find a floor plan of the place, which will be most informative.
You're also going to need to decide solidly on when your story is set. I don't know enough about castles to specify the time periods of what I'm writing, but the differences between Tudor and Normans is massive. British palaces, which I know less about but reflect the discussions of ballrooms more accurately came around, I think, in the Tudor era, and are large mansion structures. These could be hunting lodges, or summer palaces, etcetera etcetara. This is true of most structures after.... 1700? More vanity than defence. If you're stuck for ideas for rooms, think either Vanity or Servants. Either add another ballroom, or garden, or add some more servants quarters. Maybe stables.

I'll discuss older ones. I can't really specify more than that, as I'm not quite sure.
Mostly, I know motte-and-bailey castles, which were brought by the colonising Normans (French-ish) in the 1100s? These were castles on a hill, because of the strategic advantage of that position, surrounded by a wall. Google it, you'll get more factual information! These castles were surrounded by towns (and I think every town had a castle (which was sometimes just a tower). The towns got defence (and I suppose the opportunity to gain higher power's favour?) and the Lords in the castles got servants, food from the farms, clothes, etc. And these, are everywhere. There is one down the street from me, another a few miles away. I know one where you can see another from the window. This created a strong wall of defence, if every castle was loyal to one person.
In general, you can think of what a castle needs: They need war works, so arrowslits, defensive positioning, and I think most castles living spaces were a floor up, to give the advantage of stairs. There's fun facts like spiral staircases were designed to favour the defending force, which came downstairs. These staircases had more space on their sword-swinging hand.... I think. I mostly only know this fact exists, but I'm not quite sure about the actual logistics. But I share this info to emphasize that the purpose of these castles were war.
Secondly were the living requirements of the people living in the castle. For one, religion, meaning (depending on the money of the family) they'd have a room dedicated as a chapel. Two, food- this involves kitchens, granaries, gardens and farms, mills... and other things. I don't think people drank much water in those days either (dirty!) so drank... beer? I can't remember.
I remember visiting Bolton Castle, which was where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for a while. Her ladies in waiting slept on the floor around her bed, not in separate rooms
In general, the castles I'm trying to describe here had more Great Halls than Ball Rooms. I also want to say I've been told (quite insistently) that in the past castle's wouldn't be the grey stone things I think of, but would instead have white limewash on the walls. All the walls are about a foot thick. The floors would be lined with hay, I think, the walls with tapestries or murals. It'd all smell bad (people didn't wash much). Prisons were always a thing, but varied in size. Oubliettes were a thing, which come from the French for "to forget", telling you a lot about there purpose. They were tiny, dark, underground holes you were essentially dropped in and forgotten about! Most castles also had Falconries off sight for hunting, and some woods reserved as their hunting grounds, which the peasants couldn't hunt in. (Hunting deer in them could be a capital offence, which was a shame considering the peasants were starving). Peasants also had to donate a tithe to the Lord, which I think was a tenth of what they produced, and was essentially taxes.

Ultimately, I worry that I've shared some misinformation here, at least because I've confused time periods. So, for the most accuracy, I'd advise checking out real castles. Pick one that matches your needs and copy it! In the UK, essentially every major town and city has a castle, and many of these have publicized histories and floor plans. Off the top of my head, check out Edinburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle, or Drumlanrig Castle (palace-y). The ideas of servants' quarters, guards' quarters, and all that interesting intrigue, I'd guess, generally come around the 1600s at the earliest, maybe closer to the 1700s.
Keep in mind, as you're writing, the purpose of the caslte (defence or vanity), and the main purposes of nobility: Respecting God, and respecting the King. You'd be amazed how much that influences.

If you have any specific questions I might be able to help, as I have quite a few castles on hand.
  





User avatar
509 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 74
Reviews: 509
Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:14 pm
Jaybird says...



Thank you for your help, @Baezel! The castle is set in a kingdom on another world, so I don't really have a specific style of castle in mind - I just wanted to figure out what the basic details I needed to include were.
Magestorrow → Jaybird
  





User avatar
15 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 46
Reviews: 15
Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:49 pm
View Likes
Baezel says...



In which case: War, God, King, and Living!
  








There's a Brazilian things you could write about. You just gotta pick Juan.
— Hattable