Thursday, July 19, 2012

The best postcard I ever received

A dear friend recently sent me this postcard from England. The pictures are taken from the King's Chamber in the Great Tower of Dover Castle. According to the description on the back, this room has been restored by historians "to re-present the rooms in a late 12th century style."

My friend chose this postcard for me because this tower was built by order of King Henry II of England, and she knew how much I love Henry II. What she didn't know was that by sending this particular postcard to me, she was providing me the answer to a research mystery that I had so far been unable to resolve through several late night internet research sessions. My research question seemed simple enough: Did they or didn't they sleep on pillows in the Middle Ages? Not surprisingly, my first assumption was, "Well, of course they did!" But I discovered several contradictory opinions on the internet, many sources insisting that pillows came into use much later, and that most people used bolsters. I have a scene in one of the short Christmas stories I'm working on (Meg's story) that involves a pillow. I had been wracking my brains for a way to rewrite it when I received this postcard, and lo and behold, what did I find on this postcard of a restoration of a "late 12th century style" bedroom?

Those look mighty like pillows to me! (A little blurry. They didn't blow up well from the postcard scan, but still, they're clearly pillows!)

By the way, that round thing the pillows are leaning against is a bolster.

So I think I'll keep my pillow scene in Meg's story, and if anyone questions me on the matter, I'll just hold up my postcard and say, "You don't believe me? Ask the historians at Dover Castle!"


Jeannette said...

Fantastic! I'm sending you a better image, from the inside of the Dover Castle Guidebook. If you can't trust English Heritage, who can you trust?

Nichole Giles said...

How awesome that your friend knows you so well, and even better that she unknowingly helped you in such a way. That's a great story! Can't wait to read your newest project.