As children, our dreams have been greatly influenced by Disney and fairy tales.

We bond with our parents by listening to their stories of royals living in medieval castles and manor houses. 

As a result, many of us grew up with the desire to either live in or simply see what these two look like.

Castles and manor houses were the residential structures of many noble families during the Middle Ages. 

Differences Between A Castle and A Manor House

  • Castles have stronger defensive walls compared to manor houses. 
  • Manor houses are just landed estates given by high-ranking noblemen, usually kings,  to men who are loyal to them.
  • While some have fortifications on their own, manors are not as strong as the ones that can be found in castles.
  • Castles are also usually larger in size and therefore have more rooms. 
  • Castles are large and impressive in size. Apart from the noble family, all the people who worked in the castle lived here including the kitchen staff and the soldiers. 

In this article, however, we will be focusing on the different kinds of Medieval Castles and the rooms that they typically feature.

Back in Medieval Europe, there were three kinds of medieval castles. Each of these castles is distinct from the rest. 

Let us quickly take a look at each of them


1. The Motte and Bailey Castle.

Motte and Bailey Castles were first created during the Early Middle Ages to house the kings or the noble family.

 They were the first known types of castles. 

  • “Motte” is a French word used to refer to a hill. It’s where you can find medieval keeps.

It was encircled and protected by a fence known as a “palisade”. This is made from wood and was built to be large and tall in size. 

  • The Bailey, on the other hand, is the place where the medieval people lived. This is also the area where the animals and food are kept. 

The Bailey and the Motte are connected by a bridge and are both surrounded by a castle moat.

Castle moats are the depressions or ditches that surround the castle. 

It usually has water and it separates the castles from their surroundings. 

People were able to go to the castle using a drawbridge that connected it to its surroundings on top of the castle moat.

  • Example: Peveril Castle. 

The Peveril, just like any Motte and Bailey castle, is situated on the top of a cliff. 

It was considered to be one of the earliest Norman medieval castles. It is believed to have been originally a wooden keep that was later rebuilt as stone. 

To this day, the square keep and the curtain walls, along with the outer bailey are still partially standing. 

2. The Stone Keep Castles.

After some time, stone keep castles were introduced and became the preferred type. It replaced the Motte and Bailey Castles.

The reason behind this was simple—Stone Keep Castles have thick, strong stone walls. It provided a stronger defense against enemies and the weather.

  • The Stone Keep was the main and central building. It has thick, strong castle walls that are made mostly from limestone or sandstone. 
  • It has a limited number of windows.
  • The main entrance is located on the first floor. You can access it using stone steps. 
  • The medieval kitchens were found on the first floor, initially at the center of the main living room and were later on moved to a separate building.
  • The entire castle complex was protected by a thick and strong stone wall, with areas for lookouts offering better defense and protection from enemies.
  • The bailey, in this kind of castle, is the area located outside the stone keep. 
  • There is still a castle moat surrounding the castle complex.
  • People can enter the complex using a drawbridge, similar to the Motte and Bailey castles.
  • Example:  Dover Castle in England. 

Of all the Medieval castles of this type,  Dover Castle is the one that was considered to be the most well-preserved.

3. The Concentric Castles.

The concentric castle was the last of the three kinds of castles to be built and created. 

Of the three kinds, this one can protect the medieval people living there the most. It can provide the strongest protection against enemies.

Concentric castles have 2 sets of walls: 

The inner walls were created using thick stones and with a unique type of tower known as turrets. 

Protecting the inner walls are the secondary outer walls, which are also made from stone. 

These secondary outer walls are lower in height but are made with equal strength.

In between these two walls is a space known as a “death hole.”  It was called as such because any enemy who was caught and found in this space would surely die. 

Just like the other two kinds of castles, Concentric castles are surrounded by a moat. Also, it can only be accessed via a drawbridge.

That being said, this type of castle was apparently built with the concept of war and protection against one’s enemy in mind.


The number of rooms in any medieval castle varies from one to another. It depends on the castle’s location and purpose. 

Nevertheless, they share some of the same types of castle rooms.

What are the Different Parts of a Castle?

1. Great hall

2. Great chamber

3. Cabinet

4. Boudoir

5. Toilets

6. Kitchens

7. Pantries

8. Storage rooms

9. Chapel

These rooms serve a similar function to the rooms of modern houses with the same name. The only difference is that the castle rooms are more spacious compared to the modern ones. 

Also, the bed chambers are now referred to as bedrooms.

  1. The Great Hall

During the medieval period, this was sometimes known as the main hall where the royals received their guests. 

This is why some noble families display their coats of arms in the Great Hall. This is also where the noble family eats together. 

Great halls are basically the spacious dining rooms of medieval castles. It is also the largest room in the castle.

On some occasions, this hall is converted into sleeping quarters for the people who work in the castle. It is often described as a rectangular room, usually with tables.

During medieval times, many considered this the most important castle room. 

  1. The Great Chamber.

The “Great Chamber” is the term used to refer to the private quarters or bedroom of the Lady of the Castle or the Lord’s bedrooms

Some people call it the “Solar”. It was originally located beside the Great Hall. 

However, during the Late Middle Ages, it was relocated to the upper floors. This is where the Lords and Ladies of the Castle sleep and do private activities such as reading books. 

Adjacent to it were smaller rooms where the noble family’s attendants slept. The separate rooms were situated nearby so that the attendants could go to their masters easily.

Apart from the attendant’s room, there are other small rooms near the Great Chamber. 

  1. The Cabinet or the Lord’s Office. This is where small private meetings with other nobles were often held. 

It is basically the lord’s study room and is filled with books.

  1. The Lady of the Castle’s dressing rooms. Also known as “boudoir”, these rooms were also situated near the Great Chamber. 

It is usually adjacent to it, and this is where the ladies take a bath and dress.

  1. Medieval Castle Toilet. Medieval toilets are sometimes called “garderobes.” 

The term came from a French word that means wardrobe.

It is located in a small room near the bed chambers, or solar. The castle toilet is usually just a room with a hole where people can urinate or excrete

The hole is connected to a system that allows it to discharge the waste into either the moat or the cesspit.

During the Medieval period, people used movable wooden bathtubs. Because of this, people are able to take a bath whenever they want. 

The location will just depend on the preferences of the lady or the lord of the castle. 

  1. The Medieval Kitchen.

The kitchen, just like in modern houses, is where the cooking and food preparations are done. 

Initially, the kitchen is located at the center of the main living area where there is an open hearth. 

It was only during the Late Middle Ages that it was built on a separate building or structure. 

This was done to prevent the smoke and kitchen fires from getting into the great hall in case of emergencies.

In medieval castles, the meat was stored in a larder while the wines and liquors were kept in the buttery. 

The larder was built near the kitchen, while the buttery was situated near the Great Hall.

  1. The Pantry. This is the place where bread and some of the food were prepared. It is also built near the kitchen. 
  1. Storage Rooms. The Ice House is a type of food storage room created as a separate building from the castle.

It was meant to store frozen goods and ice. You can say that it is the medieval period’s version of the refrigerator. 

It is insulated and was made to be cold throughout the year. 

  1. Private Chapels

Since medieval Europe placed a great deal of devotion to their Christian Faith, many castles have private chapels.

These private chapels can be a small rooms with just a few square feet, inside the castle, with an altar. 

It can also be a separate building where medieval people who resided within the castle can go for their church service.

It is interesting to take note, however, that some nobles build their chapels near their gates. 

They did this because they believed that placing the chapel near the gates could provide them with spiritual protection.

  1. Other Rooms. 
  • Gatehouses: This is the place where you can find the drawbridges, trap doors, and murder holes. 

This is where the lines of defense of the castles can be found These are also among the strongest structures in any castle.

  • Curtain Walls: A curtain wall is often erected between two bastions and is usually built in front of the castle moat. 

It is strong and is made to provide added defense and protection to the inner parts of the castle.

The main purpose of these areas is to ensure the protection of the castle’s inhabitants. 

This is done by controlling the access and mobility of people who can go in and out of the castle.



Back in the Middle Ages, bedrooms were called bed chambers.

The main bedrooms, or bed chambers, of the Lords and Ladies of the castle, are called the Great Chamber.


The noble families were initially situated on the first floor and had direct access to the great hall. 

Later on, the great chambers were relocated to the upper floors.


It varies from one castle to another depending on the purpose of the castle.

Older castles usually have more than eight-bed chambers.


The first room, and the most important room in any castle, is the Great Hall

As was mentioned above, this is where the coats of arms of the noble families were often displayed and it was where the guests were received and entertained.

Was this article informative? Let us know which part of the medieval castle fascinated you the most!

D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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