Key Stage 3 History: Medieval Life 5: Life in Towns I Oxford Open Learning

    Key Stage 3 History: Medieval Life 5: Life in Towns

    In the last blog in our Key Stage 3 History series we looked life in the country. In blog 5 we look at life in a Medieval town.

    Life in Towns

    You think life in the country is bad? It’s no better in the towns for us poor commoners. I have to go to the nearest town once a week for the market so I know what a terrible, stinking place it is. I’ve just got back now, but I just have to have a glass of ale before I fill you in. We can’t drink the water, you know. It’s always made into ale or wine to make it safe to drink.

    Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the town. Well, I had a near miss with a chamber pot, I can tell you! Because there are no toilets in the houses, everyone does their business in a clay pot during the night. In the morning, they just throw it out the window into the street below. One was emptied today just as I walked past. Honestly, it missed me by inches, I was so busy watching where I was putting my feet on the disgusting floor. On market day, the animals are herded through the streets to the market and no one clears up their mess. Combine that with the emptied chamber pots and all the other rubbish everyone just throws out their front door and you can imagine the state of the paths! Rank doesn’t even begin to describe it!

    Pretty much everyone makes their living at the market. The people who live in the town are generally the traders and craftspeople. It’s where we go to buy our candles, cloth, ribbon, any extra food…everything we can’t make ourselves basically. It’s really crowded on market days because everyone from nearby goes.

    But you have to make sure you leave in time! The town has a wall built all the way around. There are three or four entrances which are sometimes guarded if there is trouble nearby. If the king is sending troops past, the guards are doubled! He has no care for the damage he causes, that man. Anyway, at dusk, the gates to the city are closed. No one goes in. No one goes out. You are stuck. So you have to have a care to make sure you are on the right side of the gates at dusk. I wouldn’t want to spend a night in one of those stinky places ever. It may be hard work in the country, but it’s a lot cleaner. Well, apart from all that mud…

    Penny Brooks


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    Greg is the Head Of Operations at Oxford Home Schooling and has more than 25 years of experience in Distance Learning and Home Education