We at sofa.com have been learning all about beds recently. Here are three of our historical favourites:
1. The Great Bed of Ware
This bed is famous because of its size. Measuring 11 feet by 9 feet, the four poster could sleep up to 15 people at once. The bed was built by a Hertfordshire carpenter from the town of Ware in about 1590 and was originally housed in the White Hart Inn. The bed moved between pubs in Ware until it was bought by William Henry Teale in 1870, who installed it in his pleasure garden. The bed was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1931, where it lives to this day.
The bed is illustrated with many intricate carvings of swans, lions and satyrs. Traces of the original paint show just how dramatic this bed would have looked when it was first built. As well as this ornamentation, the bed is covered with the graffiti of its occupants over the years.
(Image via VeronikaB)
2. John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed
In 1969, during the Vietnam War, Lennon and Ono held two week-long ‘bed-ins’ to peacefully protest violence. During the first of these protests, they co-wrote and recorded the song, Give Peace a Chance, from their honeymoon suite in the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel. The second bed-in was meant to take place in New York, but Lennon was not allowed to enter the country due to a 1968 cannabis conviction. The location of the protest was moved to the Bahamas, but after one night in the heat, it was moved again, this time to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.
The hotel remains in Montreal and fans still make the pilgrimage to stay the night in the famous bed.
3. James Graham’s Celestial Bed
James Graham was a sexologist who lived in the 18th Century. In 1781 he opened the Temple of Health in London, the main feature of which was a ‘Celestial Bed‘. The bed was huge (12 feet by 9 feet) and had a mirrored canopy bedecked with fresh flowers and pair of turtle doves. The bed was reputed to cure impotence.
The mattress, filled with oats, flowers and the tails of “fine English stallions”, had a specially designed frame to align its occupiers in the best position to conceive. Any movement caused the contraption to breath out “celestial sounds” from concealed organ pipes. The more vigourous the mattress’ movements, the more energetic the music.
Graham believed electricity could cure all ills, and so the headboard of his creation was loaded with a magnetic fluid “calculated to give the necessary degree of strength and exertion to the nerves”. The headboard also contained a clockwork tableau of the god of marriage, Hymen, and the inscription “Be fruitful. Multiply and Replenish the Earth”.
A night in the Celestial Bed would set you back £50. Check out this brilliant interpretation on Tim Hunkin’s site (shown and linked to above).