Archaeological Journal/Volume 1/Original Documents: Description of the Interior of a Chamber in a Castle

Original Documents,

ILLUSTRATING THE ARTS, &c. OF THE MIDDLE AGES.


DESCRIPTION OF THE INTERIOR OF A CHAMBER IN A CASTLE.

The following curious descriptive account of the interior of a chamber is taken from a manuscript of the fifteenth century in the Public Library at Cambridge, containing the metrical romance of Sir Degrevant. There is another copy of the same romance in the library of Lincoln cathedral, which furnishes a few variations. The rarity of such pieces gives considerable interest to this extract.

Ther was a ryal rooffe
In a chaumber of loffe,
Hyt was buskyd above
With besauntes ful bryȝth,
All off ruel bon[1],
Whyȝth[2] oger[3] and parpon[4],
Mony a dere wrothe[5] stone,
Endentyd and dyȝth.
Ther men myȝth se, ho that wolde,
Arcangeles of rede golde[6],
ffytly mad of o[7] molde,
Lowynge[8] ful lyȝth;
With the Pocalyps of Jon,
The Powles Pystoles everychon.
The paraboles of Salamon,
Payntyd ful ryȝth.
And the foure gospellores,
Syttyng on pyllores;
Hend[9], herkeneth and heres,
Gyf hyt be ȝoure wyll.
Austyn and Gregory,
Jerome and Ambrose,
Thus the foure doctores
Lystened than tylle.
Ther was purtred[10] in ston
The fylesoferes everychon,
The story of Absolon,
That lykyd full ylle;
With an orrelegge[11] one hyȝth
To rynge the ours at nyȝth.
To waken Myldore the bryȝth,
With bellus to knylle.

Square wydowes of glas,
The rechest that ever was,
Tho moyneles[12] was off bras,
Made with menne handes;
Alle the walles of geete[13],
With gaye gablettes[14] and grete,
Kyngges syttyng in their sete
Out of sure[15] londes.
Grete Charles with the crounne,
Syre Godfray the Boyloune,
And Arthur the Bretoune,
With here bryȝt brondes[16].
The floure was paned[17] overal
With a clere crystal,
And overe keveryd[18] with a pal[19].
Afflore[20] where she stondes.

Hur bed was of aszure.
With tester and celure[21],
With a bryȝt bordure,
Compasyd lul clene;
And all a storye at hit was
Of Ydoyne and Amadas,
Perreye[22] in ylke a plas,
And papageyes[23] of grene.
The scochenes[24] of many knyȝt
Of gold and Cyprus was i-dyȝt[25],
Brode besauntes and bryȝt,
And treweloves[26] bytwene;
There was at hur testere
The kynges owne banere;
Was nevere bede rychere
Of empryce ne qwene!

This romance, which contains several curious passages relating to the manners of the fourteenth century, will shortly be published by the Camden Society, with the variations afforded by the copy in the Lincoln manuscript.J. O. HALLIWELL.

  1. This term is mentioned in Sir Thopas and the ballad of Thomas of Ercildoun as the material of a saddle; and in the Turnament of Tottenham as having ornamented the head-dress of Tibbe. Its precise meaning does not seem to be known; but it is explained by Scott to be "the round bone of the knee."
  2. With.
  3. Ogee mouldings. See Prof Willis's Architectural Nomenclature, p. 11.
  4. A stone through a thick wall which shews both ends. In Craven, a thin wall, the stones of which are built on the edge, is called a par-point: in Scotland, a wall in general, and in Aberdeenshire the parapet of a bridge, is called a parpane. See Jamieson, supp. in v.
  5. Wrought with great pains.
  6. This probably refers to the carved corbels.
  7. One.
  8. Shining.
  9. Courteous people.
  10. Pourtrayed.
  11. A clock. This is a curious notice of a domestic clock at an early period. For further particulars on early clocks, see Barrington's paper in the fifth volume of the Archæologia.
  12. Mullions.
  13. Jet.
  14. Ornamented canopies or niches.
  15. Several.
  16. Swords.
  17. Variegated.
  18. Covered.
  19. Rich cloth.
  20. On the floor.
  21. Canopy.
  22. Jewelry.
  23. Parrots.
  24. Escutcheons.
  25. Prepared, worked.
  26. True-love knots.