Author Topic: What's a Bower?  (Read 30204 times)

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Offline Milady

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What's a Bower?
« on: Sunday, April 6 2008 12:21PM GMT-1 »
ok..now I'm going to sound like a right newbie....
but what is a bower? Is it a house, a room, a bedroom? I can't quite figure out which.
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Offline firebird

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #1 on: Sunday, April 6 2008 12:35PM GMT-1 »
According to www.traditionalmusic.co.uk:

(UK) an arboreal shelter, a rustic cottage, or a lady’s boudoir (especially in a castle). :)

In fact, there's an awful lot on information on that site - should keep you entertained all afternoon!
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Offline DavidG

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #2 on: Sunday, April 6 2008 01:16PM GMT-1 »
According to www.traditionalmusic.co.uk:

(UK) an arboreal shelter, a rustic cottage, or a lady’s boudoir (especially in a castle). :)


Yes, indeed ... it depends on the context.

In 'The Outlandish Knight' by Bellowhead it is a lady's boudoir as the knight jumps through Lady Margaret's window where she is sewing. Other songs will refer to a 'green bower' which will be some kind of arboreal shelter. Can't think of an example of it referring to a rustic cottage off the top of my head!


Offline Milady

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #3 on: Sunday, April 6 2008 02:09PM GMT-1 »
Thanks for answeringso quickly :)
I'll have to go check that site out.
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Catharine

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #4 on: Sunday, April 6 2008 02:12PM GMT-1 »
I would love a Bower, so civilised. I know it in the sense of a 'lady's withdrawing room or bedroom in a castle'. When folk 'properly' lived in castles they were often dirty, smelly, noisy, masculine places and so the bower would be a lovely civilised calm place for the lady to retreat to.  A room where she can sit and sew, paint, draw, read, play music, gaze out of the window (in case any eligible young men are passing), surrounded by her chests of clothes, her spice cupboards, perfumes, her fortified wine, her nice clean and tidy things.

Offline Milady

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #5 on: Sunday, April 6 2008 02:19PM GMT-1 »
Quote
A room where she can sit and sew, paint, draw, read, play music, gaze out of the window (in case any eligible young men are passing), surrounded by her chests of clothes, her spice cupboards, perfumes, her fortified wine, her nice clean and tidy things.
hmm...my rooms almost there...got to get some spice cupboards, fortified wine..and maybe tidy up. lol! Oh, *sigh* if only I didn't have to share with my sister.
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Letch

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #6 on: Monday, April 7 2008 12:33AM GMT-1 »
Shares a common root with 'byre', a cowshed, from the German 'Bauer', a birdcage.

The word actually has rather oppressive overtones. The traditional sense is more of a place where women are 'put out of the way' than any overtones of 'protection' or 'sanctuary', though I imagine the women of the time had mixed feelings about it.

Offline firehazard

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday, April 8 2008 07:51AM GMT-1 »
Well, I'd always thought I quite liked the idea of having a bower. Though as a bloke, I suppose I'd have to call it a den...

Next question concerning words in lyrics: What on earth is "the freece"? You know, the thing that Child Morris's green mantle is all lined with... ???
« Last Edit: Tuesday, April 8 2008 07:53AM GMT-1 by firehazard »

Offline Milady

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #8 on: Tuesday, April 8 2008 08:52AM GMT-1 »
Quote
What on earth is "the freece"?
I always thought it said fleece or frieze. lol!
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Catharine

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #9 on: Tuesday, April 8 2008 12:11PM GMT-1 »
Yes Firehazard you'd have to call it a den!

Well a mantle, in terms of a personal item, is a cloak or similar piece of 'cover-all' clothing so I'd imagine that it would be lined with 'fleece'

Offline firehazard

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #10 on: Tuesday, April 8 2008 01:58PM GMT-1 »
Well a mantle, in terms of a personal item, is a cloak or similar piece of 'cover-all' clothing so I'd imagine that it would be lined with 'fleece'

Yes, that would make sense. But I'm pretty sure that in the lyrics (ah, how I'm missing the old website lyrics section now...) it says "freece". And it certainly sounds as if that's what Mr B sings...

Offline Betty slippers

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #11 on: Tuesday, April 8 2008 10:23PM GMT-1 »
I thought it was lined with a frieze, as in it had a pretty border, cos didn't she sew it with her own hand or something?
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provincial lady

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #12 on: Wednesday, April 9 2008 06:30AM GMT-1 »
Frieze is a kind of fabric - OED says:

"A kind of coarse woollen cloth, with a nap, usually on one side only; now esp. of Irish manufacture."

The references go back to the 15th century, and spellings include frese, freez(e), frise and ffryce, so I think freece is also plausible.  Loved this particular reference from 1683:

"1683 Brit. Spec. 43 A thick Covering made of course Wool, having a Nap on both sides like Freez, worn by the Gauls and better sort of Britains to keep out the Cold."  (Don't know right now what source Brit. Spec. is).

Hope this helps ...............

Offline firehazard

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #13 on: Wednesday, April 9 2008 12:27PM GMT-1 »
Frieze is a kind of fabric...

Oh yes, and (also OED) from med. Lat. frisia, "Frisian wool". If that's it, it makes perfect sense now! Thanks!

Offline Milady

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Re: What's a Bower?
« Reply #14 on: Wednesday, April 9 2008 12:52PM GMT-1 »
coz without it you'd be friez-in ;)

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