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Tents & Temporary Structures

See also the list of period tent makers at the bottom of the page


Umbrellas seem to have been used as shelter by street venders at least as far back to the 17th century. At left is an image of a man pulling teeth on the street. There are similar examples in Dutch genre paintings of the 17th century.

A recreation of a small medieval market stall


It would probably fit perfectly in a 10' x 10' booth space as an alternative to an "easy-up" type tent common at craft fairs, although obviously it doesn't offer as much shelter. But removable canvas walls could be draped on the sides to provide extra shelter from wind, or rain. I was thinking the same thing might be done in a "double-wide" version and still be fairly stable.
Scanned from the "Medieval Life" volume of the Children's "Eyewitness Books" series.

Scene from a Medieval market fair.

The round-topped market stalls caught my eye as interesting temporary structures. My guess is that they are a lattice of wood lathes that are simply lashed together, and then the fabric is draped over it and tied down.
They may be similar to the "Bender Tent" used by gypsies.

Scanned from the "Medieval Life" volume of the Children's "Eyewitness Books" series.

Portable Buildings?

The SCA crowd apparently has some people who have been building portable structures some examples and plans can be found on the Medieval Pavillion Resources Webpage.

Gypsy Wagons/Vardos

Here's a website with links to several versions of "vardos" None of the ones I saw were being used as sales booths, but it might be an option for a sleeping space, or workshop space with fold-out displays on the outside? Or perhaps removable hanging displays attached to the outside. One of them even had a body that "telescopes" down so it easier to tow behind a vehicle.

Portable post & beam pavilion on Ebay
See the Auction page

This is a unique and very useful tent frame. It is essentially a portable post & beam tudor style wooden frame barn that was used for 6 years by by Dancing Pig Pottery pavilion at Pennsic. It was a handmade 16' wide by 24' long structure with a 2nd floor loft 16' wide by 8' deep. It was a free standing structure once it is set up- no stakes or ropes protrude from the sides. It was made pressure treated wood, the vertical posts are mainly 6x6s, the horizontal beams are mainly 2x8s and then 2x4's which act as knee braces and floor joists. 2/3rds of the lumber was been treated with Minewax cherry stain, and the plywood floor of the loft was painted white.

The structure was designed and built using medieval timber framing principles. However, it was held together by bolts, so it could be set up by an experienced crew of 4 people in under 2 hours, and taken down even more quickly. The whole structure could fit onto a landscape trailer for easy transport. Perhaps it could be even used a multiple renfairs to avoid the cost of building a more permanent structure and bolted to matching footings at each fair.

Click on the photos to see other views

18th Century Market stall
from Vanishing England by P.H. Ditchfield, 1910.
Stalls at Banbury Fair
from Vanishing England by P.H. Ditchfield, 1910.

Maker checked Wedge Wall Marquee Marquee Pavillion Tentmakers Sun forger
Maker checked Canvas WedgeWall MarqueePavillionOther
Dragon Wing Pavillions 7/2005Canvas NA NA NAYes
Ettrick Enterprises Inc
Panther tents at a discount
7/2005Flame retard, or Sunforger w/Flame retard YesYesYesYescontact about other styles
Panther Primatives: checkedYes YesYes Yes Yes
R K Lodges checked 11/4/05CanvasYes YesYes Tipis & One-poles
Spring Valley Lodges: checked site down 11/4/05yes Yes Yes
Tentsmiths: checked 11/4/05CanvasYes YesYes Yesmany other designs
East Coast Yurts Period style yurts for the SCA and other uses.CheckedCanvas
A list of Tipi and tent makers in the United States with a few in Australia, Canada, France, England, Switzerland, South Africa and Scotland.:

Tent making information The SCA Kingdom of "Atlantia" Arts & Sciences page has numerous links on period tentage listed under "pavilions and tents"