Playing King’s and Queen’s

“An Englishman’s house is his castle”
– English proverb derived from Sir Edward Coke’s The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628
It’s thought that the United Kingdom is home to somewhere in the region of seven hundred castles – the vast bulk of which were built in the Middle Ages, beginning after the successful conquests of William the Conqueror in 1066. Wales alone holds the world record for the highest number of castles per square mile. But what exactly constitutes a castle and why do we have so many?
The definition of a castle is actually quite loose and it’s one that has spurred debate from academics for many years but it is usually considered to be a large residence that has been fortified for defence purposes. The majority of castles in the UK were built in the Middle Ages, which is a period spanning from the 5th to 15th century. Construction really got into its stride after William the Conqueror was victorious at The Battle of Hastings – which any proud Brit will also tell you was the last time we were invaded (William of Orange was ‘invited’).
Historians largely agree that the reason that the Normans decided to build so many castles was because after the heavy losses suffered at the aforementioned battle, it was necessary to quickly consolidate their new power by building monuments of aggression at key strategic sites. They weren’t just monuments though as they provided his troops with a strong defensive base that allowed them to be guarded against any uprisings by the natives. This speed of building was helped by the abundance of labour and the fact that there was plenty of local materials to be had easily.
Man Made Hill
To begin with the castles were of a Motte and Bailey design. 500px-Windsor_Castle_from_the_Air_wideangle (1)A Motte was essentially a large man-made hill that had a wooden tower built on top. This would give the troops a great vantage point to be able to spot trouble coming from a long way off. A Bailey consisted of the living quarters and stables and the whole structure was then surrounded by a very high wall. It’s still possible to see evidence of this style of construction at Windsor Castle, although the
 original wooden Motte was replaced with a stone tower by Henry II in the 1170’s (see photo right).
The fact that the castle has been continuously in use for well over 900 years is a testament to how tough these structures really are. It’s no coincidence that the famous proverb above references castles as according to William Pitt even the King of England cannot enter a man’s house – and he’d certainly have a hard time trying! As a stark contrast to the cold, dark, impenetrable exteriors, the interiors were often lavish (see photo below) and made use of many fine materials. Only the finest master craftsmen were used in many properties and they worked with speed and integrity to build to most wonderful bespoke creations, from every piece of bedroom furniture to the kitchens and everything in between.
state-apartments-windsor-castle
It’s these supreme hand crafting skills and the attention to detail that most impresses us here at The Master Wishmakers and is something that we make sure is at the heart of everything we do. If we consider our Pretty Princess Castle we fully seal the outside from the elements with traditional construction methods, just like those you’d see in a real house today. We also give the exterior of the playhouse a thoroughly modern chemical coat to ensure that each customer is left with a structure that really will stand the test of time and become a real heirloom.
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