History of Four Poster Beds

The History of Four Poster Beds (4 Poster Beds) are based on the Style Periods of the Ruling Monarchs of Great Britain these are:

The History includes 164 Different illustrations of Designs of the finest
Four Poster Beds. All of these Designs can be handmade hand carved
by the Crown Guild of Master Woodcarvers Master Craftsmen.

Later Medieval and Early Tudor
Henry IV 1399 – 1413 Edward IV 1461 - 1483
Henry V 1413 – 1422 Edward V 1483
Henry VI 1422 – 1461 Richard III 483 – 1485
Henry VII 1485–1509
Tudor 1509 – 1603
Henry VIII 1509 – 1547 Queen Mary I 1553 – 1558
Edward VI 1547 – 1553 Queen Elizabeth I 1558 – 1603
Stuart and Commonwealth Period 1603 - 1660
James I 1603 – 1625
Charles I 1625 – 1649
Commonwealth 1649 – 1660
Restoration Stuart, 1660 – 1714
James I 1603 – 1625
Charles I 1625 – 1649
Commonwealth 1649 – 1660
Early Georgian
George I 1714 – 1727 George II 1727 – 1760
Later Georgian
George III 1760 – 1811
Federal and Empire 1780 – 1850
Regency and Early Victorian 1811 - 1860

BEDS From the earliest times great attention has been bestowed upon four poster beds, our ancestors spending more money on their construction and decoration 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 meager.

In wills dating from the fourteenth century onwards, " the best four poster 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 the Kings 4 post beds there, and in the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, queen of Henry VII, there are frequent allusions to the " grome of the 4 post beddes " and to sums paid to him for superintending the removal of this part of the Queen's furniture on her progress through the country.

The State four post bed of Gothic times was distinguished from other varieties by the character of its hangings rather than by any difference in the principles of construction; for though Alexander Neckham (De Naturis Rerum) implies that a roof and hangings were introduced at the end of the twelfth century, there were neither posts, cornices, nor high wooden backs to beds until the close of the Middle Ages. When the noble and princely four poster bed testators of the period be­queathed their 4 post beds to their successors, it was not of the wooden construction that they thought, but of the draperies on which time and labour had been lavished so freely.

These were an integral part of the decoration of the room, and the apparel of the four post bed with " all hallyngs belongyng to ye saide four poster bed and chamber " is a frequent form in such bequests.

That the 4 post bed should play its part in the decorative scheme was only to be expected, for in the medieval domestic economy rooms set apart for sleeping in were unknown. Bedchambers are occasionally mentioned in the Liberate Rolls of the fourteenth century as if they served a distinct purpose, but in Sir John Fastolphe's great house at Caister there were four poster beds in almost every room. In 1492, a Canon of Wells had a 4 poster bed in his parlour, and even in Elizabeth's reign the practice was still continued.

The Great Chamber, which would contain the most splendid four poster bed, fulfilled the purpose of the private dining and supper room of the lord and lady of the house, besides being used as an audience and reception chamber. In 1472 Edward IV caused a bed­room and 4 poster bed at Windsor to be hung with white silk for the reception of the Burgundian Ambassador, the counter­point, or bedspread, being of cloth of gold furred with ermine; and the herald who attended Princess Margaret, daughter of Henry VII, on her journey into Scotland to marry King James, relates that in the chamber at Holyrood where the banquet was served after the wedding " there was also a riche 4 poster Bed of state." Four Poster Beds were commonly used as couches and seats in the daytime, and the curtains, which, when drawn, completely surrounded the bedding, are generally shown looped up in the form of a bag .

At the head of the bed was a " colour " (see CELURE AND TESTER) of silk, damask or linen, while the occupant on waking looked up at some curious device embroidered on the " tester." Voluminous curtains to protect the sleeper from draughts completed the medieval four poster State bed. Under the hangings was a light framework of wood, while cords attached to the ceiling of the room supported the tester; but this framework was of negligible value and is never separately mentioned in inventories.

The " blewe 4 poste bedde " used by a fifteenth-century Prior of Durham was given to the barber of the monastery "for his paynes for making of his grave and burying of him." It was probably the hangings that became the barber's perquisite, for we are told that the bed was hold over the Prior by the Moncks till he was buried."

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