Mood Boards: Eating

It has been a long time since I have updated. I completed my PhD at the beginning of December (2014), viva’d in February and finally had my corrections confirmed at the beginning of the month. Having spent a busy month somewhere in between working at Winchelsea (http://cma.soton.ac.uk/events/2015/04/winchelsea-medieval-port-project/) and Bucklers Hard (http://cma.soton.ac.uk/events/2015/04/shipwrightery-at-bucklers-hard/)

This post is going to discuss the first of a series of mood boards I created as a way of engaging with the 3d model of the private apartments at Bodiam as part of my PhD. The idea was that discussions (and critiques) surrounding archaeological visualisation have tried to engage with subjectivity and uncertainty in different ways. I suggest the presenting the representations of the past alongside some of the source images used to create them. Each of the boards I have created is themed around some element of medieval life or experience.

The board in this post relates to eating. Stock images from sites such as GettyImages tend to focus on people physically eating rather than things associated with that task.

Eating (7)

Eating (1)

Image sources:
Queen Elizabeth receiving the Dutch ambassadors. Painted between 1570-75 the artist is unknown. It is currently at Neue Galerie, Kassel, Germany. (Jokinen 2008)
Luttrell Psalter Featuring the Lord at Dinner (Copyright 1989 The British Library Board)
(British Library, Royal MS 14 E III, f. 76v) (BritishLibrary 2014e)
(Royal MS 19 D II f. 273r)(BritishLibrary 2014g)
The Book of the Queen – Christine de Pizan in her study – by Master of the Cite Des Dames in 1410 (British Library, MS Harley 4431, f. 4r)
The Coronation Chair, Westminster Cathedral (BBCHistory 2014).
The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum (TheBritishMuseum 2011b)
British Library Royal 14 E iii, miniature of King Arthur’s Court.

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Great Chalfield Manor

It has been quite a while since I updated here due to a busy few weeks filled with exciting conferences and things, so a number of blogs will appear in quick succession.

The first is going to concern itself with a visit I paid to Great Chalfield Manor, a National Trust property in Wiltshire. The property has aspects dating from before 14th century, however, the main façade was built between 1467-80 by Thomas Tropnell.

Great Chalfield Manor

I felt the need to blog about my visit as unlike most of the properties I have visited from this period and earlier (including Knole and Penshurst) the building did not fit with my “spatial grammar of expectation”. The building is laid out with a central great hall and flanking wings to left and right, when entering the Great Hall it appears like any other, entering through the screens passage at the lower end of the hall. At the upper end there is a small vaulted/ groined room as at Bodiam, Penshurst and Ightham and above the solar or Great Chamber.

It is the other wing at the lower end of the hall which confuses me. I had assumed that the two doorways would take you through to the servants quarters but in this case no. Instead you are brought through to a dining room/ parlour with another set of private chambers apparently for the family. This has been explained through the changing fashion for eating privately instead of communally, I just find the idea of the rooms for this to occur being placed at that end of the hall bizarre. The whole experience of visiting has opened my eyes to the changes in building fashions that occurred not long after Bodiam was built and how my expectations may bias my views of visiting contemporary buildings as a whole.

This was my first intrigue for visiting the building, the next returns to my thoughts on ornamentation that I have discussed in reference to Ightham and Bodiam. Like at Ightham the family heraldry features prominently both in the buildings architecture but also in the adjoining parish church.

Parish Church Heraldry

Heraldry from the main building

The building also had a series of other interesting engravings. First on the outside of the building not only are there faces in some of the stonework as at Ightham but there are also complete figures balanced on the rooftop.

Knight in Armour

Internally there are more interesting engravings. The Great Hall features some beautiful squints which face the head of the room. These are engraved to resemble faces, one which hides above the modern minstrels gallery laughs at the high end of the Great Hall, the other two, also mocking, feature a Bishop with his mitre facing the wrong way and a king with asses’ ears. These bring back memories of the faces at Ightham Mote and mocking the high end of the table.

All together the trip was interesting, I think I will need to visit again and hopefully collect some photos of the interior, but it brought into question my understanding of the spatial grammar of the building as well as offering likely comparisons for my thoughts on architectural ornamentation.

First renders and thoughts on beams

I had a supervision yesterday with my supervisors Prof. Matthew Johnson and Dr. Graeme Earl where we discussed the first renders I had produced of my model so far. These images just detail the internal space: windows, fireplaces and doorways, and my first attempts at putting a roof and floors on the building.

I had been reading a lot around the subject of timber building construction to try to understand the appearance or these types of building. My first port of call was Richard Harris’s Discovering Timber-Framed Buildings this excellent little book explains the construction of these buildings in great detail with lots of helpful, clear diagrams. Based on his writings I started to plan the distances and shapes of my beams and how they would slot together. The following image is the results. I have just added some basic textures and materials to the renders to give an idea about the space that is not bright pink. I also realise that my smoothing groups need playing around with a bit.

Shape of beam bays

Internal beams upper floor

Ground floor showing beamed roof

A window and fireplace from the upper floor

The space the beams need to cross is quite short (about 5m) so there was no need to think about having to bridge the gap using a tie beam or similar approach. The distance the bays are placed apart does not seem to be set. I choose to space them evenly across the entire span about 5m apart as this “looked right” based on photos of other Medieval Roofs I had been using for reference (see below). Before spacing them apart I had to also consider the shape of this part of the frame. I had been looking at the above images of roof beams and decided to not go with a Crown Post and instead use 2 slanting Queen posts.

Wilmington Priory timber roof

Portchester Castle

Brockhampton Estate: The Great Hall

Presenting these images to Graeme and Matthew highlighted a few errors. Matthew suggested that the angle I had used for the Queen Posts was much too slanted, which is indicative of later buildings. Instead he suggested that it would be much more interesting to include a Crown Post or make the Queen Posts vertical.

As there are a number of options instead of just making one decision about how the roof is structured Graeme suggested that instead I create a number of different models with different roofing options, including a crown post and not, moving the number and position of bays around a bit to see if there are any obvious options for lining them up. We also discussed whether there would have been a ceiling concealing these beams. I had always assumed that the rooms would be open to the roof as this is common in halls. I had not really considered putting a ceiling in place on this upper floor.

What I had not considered was how much this changed the appearance of the upper apartment. Until now I had been thinking about them as looking fairly similar situated one above the other. However. when the roof is in place it will transform the upper apartment making it feel much larger and more open. Whereas the lower apartment will feel much more contained.

The second discussion point coming from the meeting was in reference to the beams and how decorated they were or not. We had been discussing them in terms of ornamentation of the type found at Ightham Mote (see previous blog). I asked whether, considering the lack of architectural ornamentation found at Bodiam, the beams, which would be cheaper to carve, would also be devoid of decoration. I had been thinking about it a lot as I need to decide whether I am going to shape them sooner rather than later. Matthew suggested that the question was even more complex as unlike a lot of slightly earlier buildings the household was not a peripatetic one, it was solely based at Bodiam. Which we would have assumed that more of the building would be decorated as it would not have had to have been moved around. So wondering whether the more decayed areas of the building are as plain as the rest of it is a very hard question, which I have yet to find an answer for.

3/10 things you didn’t know about Bodiam Castle: Ornamentation

Unlike at Ightham Mote ornamentation on the architecture at Bodiam is virtually none existent. Despite the scale of the building and its presence in the landscape there is just one piece of decorated stonework remaining: a leafy boss.

Leafy Bpss

Again unlike at Ightham it is not on display in an obvious entrance or public room, it is concealed in the on the right side of the gatehouse on the second floor. It is not in a room, but more of a passageway which only remarkable feature (other than the boss) is one of the new style gun loops. It is so concealed that few visitors notice it (and even so called experts *myself* spent a good morning wandering around looking at ceilings before I found it!).

Size of Room

It is curious that it is found in this location. As I have already stated at Ightham the majority of the ornamentation is on the public areas of the building. This area of Bodiam is so concealed it is not a display of ostentation as it is in other buildings. It is so concealed and so small we have to question why it is there. The room is tiny it could even be considered a corridor, its only feature is that the gun loop lighting it overlooks the gatehouse: which have been suggested as some kind of porters lodge use. The room itself is very dark even during the day, there is no space to sit in the room, or anything to do there except look out the gun loop. It required such a trained eye to find it it seems wasted here in this part of the building.

Ightham and ornamentation

Much of this blog so far has concerned itself with Bodiam Castle and the work I am doing there. I have just completed a week of fieldwork in Kent and on the first day I spent a morning at Ightham Mote. My intention was to photograph various areas around the hall and see how the roofs are put together.

Ightham Mote, Kent

While looking around I began to think about the experience of entering the great hall. Unlike at Bodiam Ightham has much for ornamentation on the structure of the building. There are decorative panels around the doorways and most importantly a series of engraved faces at the bases of the roof arches. These face in a range of directions and feature different characters. The first of these would have been encountered at the entrance to the hall these feature two (now somewhat eroded) faces. On another entrance in the courtyard the two faces are both gurning one looking sad and the other happy. The two faces on the entrance to the hall could have depicted similar features.

Smiling face to right of door

Sad face to left of other door

Closeup of one of the faces

Entrance to Great Hall faces can be seen on the archway

Other entrance from courtyard

Once through the door you now enter a new entrance room whereas just after the initial construction you would have entered directly into the hall. Another of these faces now greats you from directly opposite the entrance. This one is positioned as if he is holding up the hall. He looks under great strain. This could have links to the idea of lordship in feudal society. It could give suggestions of social status. It is also interestingly positioned at the lower end of the hall.

Figure opposite entrance

As one turns into the hall from this position there are two more sets of faces at the bases of the main beams in the hall. One set at the centre of the room look intently up towards the head of the room. This could be another architectural social cue. The building could be giving instructions through the architecture to those entering it. These figures show how those sitting below are meant to act towards their lord.

Figure at centre of hall

At the very head of the room are two final figures each with large shoulders again holding up the roof. These are looking back down the room at those seating below it. These ones are harder to read. They to some extent look like they are wearing masks.

Figures at head of hall

At Ecclesiastical sites architecture provides visual cues to convey social expectations particularly about what behaviour is expected or what they are expected to be thinking about. In an age where most people were not literate an image or visual cue would convey and have much more meaning than the written word (Woolgar, 2006: 179-180)(D. L. C. Clark, 2007). These figures might be being used to convey similar information about what is expected of the illiterate in this context.

Reference

Clark, D.L.C., 2007. Viewing the liturgy: a space syntax study of changing visibility and accessibility in the development of the Byzantine church in Jordan. World Archaeology, 39(1), pp.84-104. Available at: http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&doi=10.1080/00438240601148798&magic=crossref||D404A21C5BB053405B1A640AFFD44AE3 [Accessed October 29, 2010].

Woolgar, C.M., 2006. The Senses in Late Medieval England, London: Yale University Press.