Blathe Thorpe is a fortified manor house on a sizable and groomed estate, a smattering of outlying farms, and a small village green surrounded by support villeins and crofters, and a tidy inn (Strongfort Inn).
Lord Sir Osbert Blathe is only one step below Baron Fabian Fallowdown, and has been able to afford to build a fine stone manor house, support a large household, and live in an impressive style.
Sir Osbert’s family have been nobility for many generations. This manor is his clan’s primary seat. Sir Osbert, being the youngest of three sons, upon reaching adulthood decided to become a herald. He spent many years learning about the history of the kingdom and of his house. His memory for detail is excellent. By the time he was 30, he had risen to the very highest levels as a personal assistant to King Donal’s own herald. He grew to be an influential man, his opinion and council courted by earl and primus alike. Now nearly 80, he has largely retired from the world and accepted a position as the family herald for his second cousin, Baron Fallowdown.
Although getting on in years herself, Lady Edna Blathe, Sir Osbert’s wife, is still very active. Her eyes now milky white with cataracts, she navigates the house by memory. She is close friends with all the ladies of the house. Four decades older than most of the other women, she has taken on the matronly role of grandmother, councillor, and confidant. No longer able to embroider or knit, she often sits quietly and tells tales of her youth and travels with her husband in the king’s royal retinue. She spins a fine yarn and has a way of making decades-old gossip seem exciting and new.
Blathe manor is a relatively newly constructed manor (only 19 years since construction was completed) and is located in a dangerous frontier region where the strong defences are necessary.
The manor house was constructed under the direction of a skilled master mason. The stone walls are straight, level, and plumb. As a result, they are exceptionally tight, strong, and draft free. The wood is all old-growth oak; single pieces are used wherever possible. The windows into the nobles’ chambers and the chapel are made with glass, while those in the other rooms are made with horn or taut sheepskin. All the windows have two-inch-thick oak shutters; the ones on the ground floor are iron-clad on the outside. The surfaces of the flat roofs of the watchtower and parapets are constructed of 12-inch-wide, six-inch-thick planks of oak, waterproofed with tarred rope driven into the seams, and covered with a thin layer of flagstones for fire protection. They are slightly sloped from the middle out to the sides for good drainage. The pitched roofs are built with narrower, three-inch-thick planks and covered with slate shingles to protect them from fire. The gatehouse passage, cellars, and kitchen are roofed with skilfully fitted groin vaults. The rooms above them have stone floors.
Instead of braziers, fireplaces are used throughout. They give out a decent amount of heat and only smoke a little bit. With good window coverings and well-built masonry walls, the manor house is remarkably warm and free of drafts for a stone building. The manor cost approximately twice the price of a normal building of similar size and took three times as long to build.