The tour of the Medieval Merchant’s House in Southampton moves upstairs.
Above the ground floor passage is a gallery. It runs between the two bedchambers on the first floor. Only one, at the front of the house, is furnished. In The Winter Love this is the room I gave to Eleanor and her friend, Isabelle, while Isabelle’s brother, the merchant, sleeps at the back.
The bedchamber is furnished with two beds, complete with bed hangings, a cradle, a stool and three chests.
The beds each have a canopy, bed hangings and a counterpane.
The bed hangings provided privacy, both from other occupants of the room and from neighbours. There were no curtains at the unglazed window, although there might have been shutters.
One of the useful things I learned in the bedchamber is that the canopy of a medieval bed did not rest on four posts, as I had imagined (influenced by too many beds from later centuries), but it hung suspended from the ceiling by ropes. I already have some ideas about how such an interesting fact could be used in a future novel.
The bedchamber was open to the ceiling and did not originally have a fireplace. As well as being decorative and providing some privacy, the bed hangings also helped to keep the occupants of the beds warm. These have been made using medieval techniques.
The bedroom contains two more garishly decorated chests:
This pretty little stool is also in the bedchamber.