By Aliki Kraterou
A medieval-mad couple have spent £5,000 transforming their home – including turning their dining room into a Middle Ages-themed banquet hall – to host a meal for their pals.
Jayne and Martin Townley moved to the four-bedroom semi-detached home in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, two and a half years ago – and decided to give it their own fantasy twist straight away.
Within days they had enlisted a mural artist to paint the walls of their dining room to resemble stones, and used mirrors, archways and real lights from stately homes to create an authentic medieval feel.
And the couple have found the most unique way to celebrate the turn of the year – by hosting a medieval-style New Year’s Eve dinner served on wooden boards and slate slabs with mulled wine and ale from flagons and goblets as an annual tradition.
Even better, their 19 guests also dressed up in medieval outfits, crowns, hats and headdresses before posing outside the back of their home, which an artist spray-painted to make it look like a castle.
Jayne said: “We both like anything that’s quirky or different, but Martin is the one who is more knowledgeable about what is authentic for the era.
“Martin really likes crowns, knights and everything medieval so he was the reason we did this.
“We had a medieval dining room in our previous house but that was primarily just the props such as the suit of armour and flags – it wasn’t until we moved here that we actually painted the walls and ceiling.
“I wanted it to look like a castle, but specifically not like a dungeon. I’m really pleased with it – we wanted it to feel like a film set or a museum.
“We didn’t want it to look tacky or have just pictures of medieval things, we really wanted it to ‘feel’ medieval, so we even burn log fire scented candles.
“When most people enter the room they are usually in stunned silence.
“They don’t expect our dining room to go like this because the front of the house is normal, so it’s hidden.
“People who do know we’ve got a medieval dining room thought it would be tacky and cheesy but it isn’t, it’s tranquil. They like to sit in there and soak up the atmosphere and listen to the lute music.”
The couple’s love for the medieval era comes from landscape gardener Martin’s beloved hobby of jousting.
The former jockey took up the sport four years ago after Jayne bought him a jousting experience as a birthday present and since went on to win the British Amateur Jousting Championships.
Martin and Jayne, 49, a professional magician, have also filled their home with secret doors and magical illusions.
But they admit their teenage twins, Max and Evie, 16, are ‘not especially interested’ as they ‘eat in the dining room every day anyway’.
Jayne said: “We do it for ourselves. We do eat in there every day.
“People are usually pretty amazed as you can’t tell from the outside.
“Our friends and extended family are always super excited about coming over and our neighbours love it, they come to visit all the time.
“I just wanted to do something different for meal rather than a simple dinner, so I thought a cold meat and cheese platter would be more ‘medieval’.
“I didn’t want anything tacky but I didn’t want just to put up pictures, I wanted proper medieval.
“It looks like a film set, you feel like you really got back in time.”