Castles and Manors?


Dec 23, 2012
So I've been having this issue with finding a word other than castle or manor for the grand houses of my nobility. In real life there are hundred of castles speckling the countrysides of European countries. In my world all the nobility have architecturally magnificent abodes, but I don't want it to seem like everyone has a castle (with the connotation of a kingly estate).

If you have any suggestions or an useful source I could use to assist me with issue I would totally appreciate. :)

This is my first thread on this forum, by the way.
You are rather limited, I suppose, although you could use, 'Stronghold,' 'Tower,' 'Keep,' or, 'Hall.' Kings and Bishops live in palaces, but it tends to be poor form for those of lower rank to do so.

A castle is a defensive structure, as well as a residence. As times grew more peaceful, they were generally replaced by the more comfortable manor houses, so it really depends on your time-frame - manor houses are far more difficult to defend.

Forts or Fortresses are commanded, rather than inhabited. The person who lives there may be of the nobility, but he's there due to his military rank, and most of his subordinates will be soldiers, rather than the personal guard/civilian staff/families mix of a purely residential structure.
Castle: fortress, fort, fortified house/town, redoubt.

Manor: Great House, estate, seat, hall.

You could look up the different types of castle and manor house online, for instance using Google or Wiki. In Scotland, for example, there are the tower houses (similar to tower keeps), baronial-style castles and L-shaped castles. Many of the latter are simply fortified houses. The tradition goes all the way back to the Brochs of the Iron Age and beyond.

Maybe some that will help. Welcome to the Chrons, aliadamir. :)
Well a castle is usually made up of a keep surrounded by a series of walls.

You could always class a fortified house as a keep?
Depends on which culture you're using for a reference.

Castles were the mainstay in more violent times, but there are plenty of grand mansions about that sprung up after - see if they may be of relevance to your writing.

"Manor" is a perfectly fine word for any large, impressive home. I would agree that "castle" sounds more royal.

If you think you are using the word too often, first go to any thesaurus and look up synonyms. (Caution: When you find a synonym you like, make sure you fully understand its meaning! Synonyms are similar, not exactly alike.)

For example, here's some for "manor":

Synonyms castle, château, estate, hacienda, hall, manor, manor house, manse, palace, villa

As you can see, "hacienda," with its Spanish or Latin American implications, isn't going to carry the same meaning as "manor." I think that "estate" would be a decent word to use. The word "manse" sounds old-fashioned, which might be OK if that's the feeling you want in your story.

Maybe the manors in your story have names to distinguish them -- Smith Hall, Sunrise Manor, the Villa La Rue, whatever.
Thanks all! :) I really appreciate it. Its refreshing to hear helpful suggestions.

I like the word manse and it fits the personality of the country where some of my buildings reside.
Forts didn't even occur to me until now, so that will be an interesting new concept to apply.
Welcome to the Chrons!

What country and time period are you basing your fantasy on? The reason I ask is that architecture is very different within Europe, and different from age to age, so it might be an idea to think about what you want them to look so that the name more accurately reflects what you imagine. eg ch[FONT=&quot]â[/FONT]teau literally means castle in French but most ch[FONT=&quot]â[/FONT]teaux don't look anything like an English castle eg

And although in English a palace is usually reserved for royalty and bishops, in Italy its exact translation of palazzo is simply the name of any nobleman's house eg

NB A manor is the estate, so if you're using that it should properly be "the manor house" (as opposed, eg to the dower house, where the dowager would live once the head of the family died and their eldest son took over the main building). This is a typical English manor house

Many other houses might be called The Great House, or The Hall, or simply known by their name eg stately homes such as Chatsworth

EDIT: NB I'd associate manse more with the residence of a Scottish minister of religion than a nobleman's house, particularly one of any great standing.
Another possibility is a towerhouse which were essentially large, stone buildings, ie a small keep but used as a residence. Google portaferry towerhouse and there a few links to show what it looked like.

Country estates are another posibility, and they would have manor houses.

Btw manse works as a large house with grounds in Ireland,and wouldn't be linked to the clergy.
There's not a particular country that I'm focusing on for inspiration. I want a wide variety of styles because there is a lot of diversity in the places where they see them. I liked all three of those photographs and I think I have a place for all three. Especially the Italian palazzi, thank you. :)
Funny about 'manse' -- I've always thought it meant only 'house for a minister' and didn't realise it had another meeting until I read this thread (and looked it up).
The château my boss owned until a year ago started its existence as a royal hunting lodge, into which one of the kings of Savoie installed a mistress he had brought back from the crusades It still had arrowslit windows and doors which could be barred against rams. No moat, though, but it did have an internal well.

Other French châteaux are totally indefensible, big windows and elegant architecture (bet they're harder to keep warm.

Residences of older families will tend to be built for a more fragmented society – at least in our time line Europe – while more modern constructions (a mere few centuries old) tend to assume a central authority will prevent your neighbours charging in and looting, burning and raping.

Just bureaucrats and taxes, and moats and portcullises proved ineffective against these.
As paranoid marvin pointed out, a castle is a fairly large complex consisting of multiple structures. Lower ranking landlords such as landed knights and barons would quite possibly just have a keep rather than a full castle.

I have lowly knights who don't even get a keep, but rather live on villas.

I wouldn't necessarily agree that a castle suggests or implies kingly status, however. In fact, in a typical feudal society the most powerful nobility will be substantially wealthier than the sovereign, with their own enormous castles and palaces.

Bodiam Castle in East Sussex (famously featured as the oft-collapsing "Swamp Castle" in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) was built by a mere knight, for example. (Interestingly, the original license from Richard II was for the existing manor house to be refortified, but Sir Edward Dalyngrigge instead built a castle on a new site).
Funny about 'manse' -- I've always thought it meant only 'house for a minister' and didn't realise it had another meeting until I read this thread (and looked it up).

Me too! And I'd expect most Scottish or English readers to say the same.
So I had to go and look it up too. Wikiepdia says minister's residence, wiktionary says
Latin derivation
manse (plural manses)

  1. A house inhabited by the minister of a parish.
  2. (archaic) A family dwelling, an owner-occupied house.
  3. A large house, a mansion.
But I'd assume minister's residence - and nothing especially grand either for Presbyterian Scotland. A solid, probably grim, two storey stone house with at most say 6 bedrooms would be my mental picture of manse.

If you are wanting grand residence, not defensive then chateau is the first one that springs to my mind, but palazzio would work (though it is an awful lot like palace...)
If you are wanting grand residence, not defensive then chateau is the first one that springs to my mind, but palazzio would work (though it is an awful lot like palace...)

Another option is "villa", which were the sprawling country houses of the Roman nobility (as opposed to the domus which was their house in the city).
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