Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Monk's Cell

Or Good Night Henry!

You may remember, from my earlier listing of all the rooms that would be included in the Castle, my mentioning the Monk's Cell, which would be off the back corner of the Chapel. And you may also remember me mentioning that in the early "history" of this Castle it was an Abbey built on the site of a Sacred Spring. Now, in the original Abbey there was a whole wing devoted to the sleeping quarters of the Monks. But as this was VERY long ago, the dormitories were only built of wood, not stone like the Chapel Tower and Great Hall, and so they did not survive long when the Abbey was abandonned (whether because of Viking raids or the Black Plague, I do not know). When the Castle was once again occupied and fortified, the only room left for the Monk's Cell was the tiny room beside the Chapel. As everyone knows, Monks are very humble people and do not expect roomy accommodations, so the Castle Monk was very happy to have a room to call his own! And being humble people, they rarely portrayed their sleeping cells in any of the vast number of Illuminations they painted in Medieval texts. While it is common to see pictures of them painting or writing texts in a scriptorium - we almost never see where they sleep, and really know of their cells mostly from literary references. But I have found one tiny illumination that shows Saint Alexis asleep in a cubby under a stairway! It is from "The Hours of Catherine of Cleves" and was painted in the fifteenth century.

Please excuse the blurry photo, the original is about one inch wide!

So you can see that I have little material to go by in deciding on the decor for his cell, and I must therefore make it up as best I can!

So to begin with I determined that the Cell would have a tiny window with wooden shutters but no glass panes. Glass was used only in the important rooms and only slowly became common in all windows. His bed would be a narrow wooden plank raised off the floor, allowing room to store his clothes beneath the bed. And you may also remember that the Monk's Cell is where the trap door to the Postern Door was located. And because this room would eventually be closed in and hard to access, I had to complete all of it's details before I could complete the Chapel details.

Here you can see the very beginnings of the Chapel, while the Cell has already received it's Faux Stone painting inside. You can also see the trap door open, and the bed to the left.

Here you can see the Chapel ceiling (temporarily) in place, and the front wall to the Cell as well. And you can see the beginnings of the pillars in the Chapel itself, also temporarily in place. This gives you an idea of how little access there will be when the Cell is completed.

And the part I am really proud of is the Lighted Candle I made from sculpey, perched on a stone corbel at the back of the Cell! You can also see the wooden shutters on the small window on the left wall. And the Chapel has received the first coats of paint and some of the "stone" trim around the doorway.

A closer view of the inside of the humble Cell

And looking in through the door with the wall in place......

I'm SO proud of that little lighted candle!

And of course, there is a cross hanging on the wall. I apologize for the darkness of this photo.... the candle only gives a little light! If you look closely you will see that a mattress and some woolen blankets have found there way in too.... it looks so cosy and inviting! Almost as though somebody is living here already!

Oh, but wait.... I didn't think you were a Monk!

"Most certainly NOT!" says Henry. "But while nobody else is here, why not use it myself?"

"It's not like I'm putting anyone out.... and the place looks so cosy...... for a Castle!"

"And it's getting late! I'm going to bed now."

"Put out the candle for me, would you?"

I just LOVE that little candle!

"Good Night Henry! Sleep Well!"

Good Night Henry


  1. Oh this is so cool! Love this cell and love the lightning! Great work!:)

  2. Love the candle as much as you do!! Thanks for taking us step by step through your adventures. Your castle is looking great and that monk's cell (almost) too cosy!

  3. I love the whole scene, including your amazing candle! I agree with Henry -- it's too cosy and lovely a spot to leave uninhabited! I'm in awe of your work on this project -- can't wait for more!

  4. It looks so good and I like all the decorative trim you've used. Well done with the candle. It's a pity the little room is tucked away.

  5. Betsy, did you use a flickering bulb for this candle? Whatever you use, it is AWESOME! I can totally feel your thrill . You must so enjoy just sitting and staring at this cell with that little light :).

    I am getting very fond of Henry :).

    Your woodwork and the details you have created for the castle is inspiring. Hats off to you, Betsy :):)

  6. ¿Cuanto trabajo ya hay adelantado! Las fotos transmiten la tranquildad del sitio y esa vela es un acierto. Me gusta mucho y veo que tendremos más entradas con la abadia. Me encanta.
    Besos Clara.

  7. Thanks Ewa! I am enjoying building the Castle and it's wonderful to share it!

  8. Thank you Marion! I love the building part... I almost don't want to get finished!

  9. Hi Nina! Thanks for your vote of confidence! I am amazed at how much the little people start to take over once they arrive....! I had no idea his name was Henry until he walked into the cell as I was taking pics for the blog! I have a feeling we will hear a lot more from him!

  10. Hi Irene! Thanks for noticing the decorative trim! I have been having a lot of fun combining it in ways that look (to me) like old carved stone! I will show more on another post!
    I actually kind of like having the room tucked away... it adds that layer of depth that makes it feel more real to me... partly hidden spaces glimpsed from through a door are fascinating and mysterious...... will have to add some story bits... there IS a trap door after all... !!

  11. Hi Sans! I had a feeling you would ask me that! lol! I have to confess that I am still putting together the first tries with the flickering bulbs.... got to get the soldering and hide the bits in the solid parts and all that! I had JUST made this candle when I saw your little lantern.... so it has inspired me to make the FUTURE candles flicker! It WILL happen!
    As for Henry, he is turning into a show stealer! I will have to watch out for him!
    As you know, I love to do the building part of these houses.... and this Castle allows me to indulge my love of fancy trim and unlimited imagination... lots more to come! :)

  12. Clara, thank you for commenting! I think you are enjoying the tranquility of the Monk's cell! I will learn Spanish if you comment often!