Waterford Medieval Museum
Conveniently located right beside the Bishop’s Palace is the Medieval Museum, which first opened in August 2012. Our visit was shortly after the formal grand opening in March 2013, so it was a unique day in that we experienced both the “new carpet smell” and antiques from the Middle Ages! The guided tour begins in the medieval Chorister’s Hall, which really put us in the mindset of ages past. Note that the photographs are a bit dim, as the museum lighting is kept low and flash photos are prohibited, for obvious reasons.
The famous Charter Roll warrants a re-visit after the guided tour is completed. This document is actually a stitched-together compilation of many parchments. Its origins have to do with Waterford being declared a royal port around the 12th century. Such declarations were very important for port towns in terms of taxes, favored trading status, and the like. However the nearby town of New Ross soon became a rival to Waterford. In 1373 a meeting was held for King Edward III to determine which of the two towns would have official control over trade in the area.
To bolster their claims, the merchants of Waterford compiled all of the trade charters that proved Waterford had been given control long before New Ross came into being. The roll came out to over 12 feet long in total! However, the Waterford merchants were sensitive to politics and what we would today call “optics”. They commissioned artists to add some twenty colored pictures to the roll – this was no quick task in those days.
So did they paint butterflies and flowers? No, silly! Edward was an English king….so the roll had paintings of all the English kings going back to the first to arrive in Ireland. Oh, and by the way, these were also Edward’s ancestors! Pretty slick, eh? Naturally a lovely portrait of Edward III was included. Along with some other politicking, the Charter Roll did the trick and Waterford prevailed!
15th Century Vestments
An entire room in the museum houses a beautiful collection of Benedictine vestments (clothing and accessories worn by priests) from the 1400s. The delicate gold weaving in many items is really something to see, and mind-boggling how much work went into creating them. That they have survived in such good condition is equally impressive. A bunch of other cool artifacts are found here, including royal letters, documents, swords, and a hat worn by Henry VIII.
Waterford Marina Hotel
Our three nights were spent at the Waterford Marina Hotel, which was within good walking distance of all the places we visited. Our corner room, with one double and two twin beds, was huge! The non-corner rooms weren’t nearly as big but, from what I saw walking past, seemed nicely sized. As I said, the location is fantastic with a very attractive setting along the river. Our room was well-cleaned, had a full size tub and shower, and a small-ish TV. The staff all seemed quite friendly.
We ate in the bar several times and were impressed with both the quality of the food and prices, which were better than most hotel restaurants (for example a sandwich and crisps for just under five Euros). We didn’t try the main restaurant as its prices were out of our budget. While wi-fi was free throughout the property, the signal in the room was weak. Wi-fi strength in the lobby was good. Overall we enjoyed our stay and felt it was a really good value for the price paid.