Ten beds that changed the world, from King Tut to Tracey Emin
As long as there have been humans, there have been beds. Here are some landmark examples
, but they seem now largely to have been put to bed. The bed went missing for 500 years, but was rediscovered when the Redland House hotel in Chester was demolished in 2010. The bed, which had been in the hotel’s honeymoon suite, was dismantled and left in the car park, where it was spotted by an auctioneer. Romantics like to believe it was the bed in which Henry VIII was conceived.
The ‘Sun King’s’ bed.Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images5. The Great Bed of WareAs the name suggests, this four-poster’s claim to fame is its size – 10ft by 11ft and large enough, according to the Victoria and Albert Museum,which acquired it in 1931
, to accommodate four couples. It was made in about 1590, but there is little evidence it was used for Elizabethan hanky-panky. The supposition is that it was commissioned as a tourist attraction for an inn in Ware, Hertfordshire, and created by local carpenter Jonas Fosbrooke. It did, though, encourage a certain playfulness: some of those who slept in it carved their initials on the headboard and bedposts, and in 1689, to win a bet, headtopics.com
. At the same time. The bed also achieved literary fame: Shakespeare refers to it in Twelfth Night, and Ben Jonson in Epicœne.The Great Bed of Ware.Photograph: Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH/Alamy6. Shakespeare’s second-best bedIn his will, Shakespeare bequeathed his “second-best bed, with the furniture” to his wife, Anne Hathaway. The bequest was made in a
line scribbled on the willa month before Shakespeare died, and biographies have been written based on the lateness of the addition and its apparently disrespectful sentiments. The suggestion is he disliked his wife, who was eight years older than him and may have forced him into marriage when he was 18 because she was pregnant, but the evidence is sketchy. It was common for the eldest child – in this case Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna – to get the bulk of the estate, and the gesture may even have been affectionate. The best bed in a well-appointed 17th-century household was usually reserved for guests; the second-best bed for the people who lived there. This may, some suggest, have been the marital bed.
7. The ‘warming-pan baby’Mary of Modena Bed, in which Mary of Modena – the wife of the Catholic King James II – gave birth to a son in June 1688. James had no male heir, so a Protestant-leaning public were reassured by the belief that he would be succeeded by Mary, his avowedly Protestant daughter from his first marriage. The arrival of a son to Catholic parents upset these plans, and led to rumours that the child had been stillborn and a replacement smuggled into Mary of Modena’s bed
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Really that’s the best a left wing rag could come up with. What the hell is you obsession with some low life like Emin for gods sake!