Classic Four Poster Beds
A brief history of the four poster bed (full tester bed) with illustrations of the finest 4 poster beds of Europe and the Americas.
Four poster beds from the earliest times were given great importance and attention to their carved design and detail. Our ancestors spent huge sums of money on their four poster beds Design construction and decoration more than on any other article of furniture. In all large houses births, marriages, deaths and the reception of distinguished visitors were great events in which beds played an important part. And minute descriptions of them are found in early inventories when those of other furniture are disappointingly meagre.
In wills dating from the fourteenth century onwards, "the best bed" often headed the list of personal legacies, and they were regarded as family possessions of the highest consequence.
In Royal palaces an officer was placed in charge of them, and in the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, queen of Henry VII, there are frequent allusions to the "groom of the beds" and to sums paid to him for superintending the removal of this part of the Queen's furniture on her progress (travels) through the country.
Source: King Henry VIII Book of Hours
British Museum circa 1485
Source: A Burgundian Manuscript
British Museum circa 1480
The Great Bed of Ware, (The Worlds Most Famous Four Poster Bed) with dimensions: height 7ft 6ins by length 10ft 9ins by width 10ft 9ins. In a 16th century play by the immortal bard “Sir Toby Belch Co, rites it in martial hand be curst and brief, it is no matter how witty, so it be elequent, and full of invention, taunt him with the licence of ink, if thou thous'st him some thrice, it shall not be amife, and as many lies will lie in thy sheet of paper although' the sheet were big enough for the Bed of Ware in England, set ‘em down go about it," Shakespeare.
The most famous Four Poster Bed is the Great Bed of Ware, which can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. This was probably made for Sir Henry Fanshaw of Ware Park in about 1611. But by 1612 it had been transferred to the White Hart Inn, Ware, Hertfordshire. It was moved from inn to inn in the town until 1669 when it was removed to Rye House, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.
It is 10 feet 8 inches (3.25 metres) square and stands 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 metres) high, (the Guild craftsmen make your four poster bed to the size you specify) and according to Sir Henry Chauncey's History of Hertford (1700) it bedded 'six citizens and their wives from London. Such a size was not unusual. The royal 4 poster beds of King Henry VII, King Henry VIII, and King Edward VI was quoted as being 11 feet (3.35 metres) square when on display at Windsor in 1598. This remarkable four poster bed showing by the quality of its carved figures, and carved bulbous legs and carved bed frame shows the skill and artistry of the guilds master wood carver.
Designs and Construction of the Four Poster Bed through 4 Century's Georgian Interiors Period. The Royal State Bed was not started because of the Napoleonic wars between Britain and France, our own Crown Guild craftsmen completed this wonderful bed in 2003 and it now stands in the state bedroom of one of England's finest castles.
Another design and construction of the four poster bed through 4 century's of Georgian interiors period. Our Crown Guild craftsmen are completing this wonderful bed in 2008 and it will stand on completion of refurbishment fo the palace building in the state bedroom of one of England's finest mansions.
On the four poster bed the base frame sides and end of the oak-framed "bedstock" (q.v.) were perforated and ropes drawn through them to support the mattress. Records of the time show that the bedding usually consisted of a straw or wool pallet, two feather-beds, sheets (sometimes of silk), blankets, another feather-bed and over all an embroidered quilt, often trimmed with fur. For King Henry III mattresses were made by one William Joyner, who later became Lord Mayor of London: this mercer was ordered to cover the King's mattresses with silk, velvet, and other costly materials. In Norman illuminated manuscripts the occupant of the bed is represented wearing night attire, but by the thirteenth century the practice appears to have been discontinued and until the close of the medieval period people generally slept unclothed.
Some cynical lines of the Reliquice Antique speak against the pomp and vanity of dress in women, who are told that, however gay may be their raiment during the day, they know well they must lie in bed as naked as they were born at night .
On their periodical progresses from house to house, great magnates carried their valuable beds, bedding, curtains and valances with them; for so scarce was furniture in the Middle Ages that even the windows and locks were made to take out and accompany their owners in their travels around their estate holdings.
This four poster bed design is available from Crown Guild Craftsmen handmade and hand carved at an affordable price.