Monday, 30 December 2019

Building a Castle: The Kitchen

Early in the medieval period castle kitchens and store rooms were free-standing buildings inside the bailey to guard against fire. As fire safety improved kitchens were built into the lower storey of the great hall, with a passage leading into the hall.

Medieval kitchen Gainsborough Old Hall (
The kitchen featured a large stone fireplace, big enough to roast sizeable animals or pieces of meat to feed the whole castle. The fireplace had a bread oven built into the back, and hooks for hanging pots to boil stew or vegetables. The problem with a large fireplace is getting the fire to draw when it was first lit. Some fireplaces had an aperture in the back which could be opened to create more draught, and they all had large chimneys.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Research: Nuclear Disarmament

According to the United Nations:
Nuclear weapons are the most dangerous weapons on earth.  One can destroy a whole city, potentially killing millions, and jeopardizing the natural environment and lives of future generations through its long-term catastrophic effects.  The dangers from such weapons arise from their very existence.  Although nuclear weapons have only been used twice in warfare—in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945—about 14,500 reportedly remain in our world today and there have been over 2,000 nuclear tests conducted to date.  Disarmament is the best protection against such dangers, but achieving this goal has been a tremendously difficult challenge.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Building a Castle: Food Supply

Because a castle was built to withstand a siege, it was necessary to include gardens, food stores and areas for keeping poultry and livestock inside the walls. In peacetime there were fields outside the castle for herds and crops, and also a watermill or windmill to grind the grain.

Kitchen Garden
A typical kitchen garden grew vegetables and herbs. Some vegetables not known today were alexanders (like asparagus) and skirrets (with sweet-tasting white roots). Herbs were used in cooking and medicine, but also scattered among the rushes on the floor to combat smells and pests.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Research: Prison Reform

The recent attack on London Bridge by a convicted terrorist out of prison early on licence has raised a storm of concerns and everyone is looking for someone to blame. Originally prison was somewhere to lock away people who had broken the law and were a menace to society. Comfort and care were not even considered, so long as society was safe and criminals were punished.
Elizabeth Fry
Then certain people became concerned about prisoners' human rights and whether this treatment was helping them to change. So now they have television and games and courses to improve their skills. But incidents like that on London Bridge raise questions again about the effectiveness of prison. Some think we should lock up more people for longer while others think we should look into alternatives and lock up less people for a shorter time.