The four-poster bed has been an intrinsic part of the British landscape since as long ago as the 14th century when they would have been the preserve of the nobility.
Indeed, for centuries, the bed has been a sign of wealth. The richer the nobleman, the better the bed, and the aspirational status of these romantic structures still holds true today.
Back in medieval times the four-poster bed or tester bedstead, as it was also known, would have been made of wood and invariably fine English oak that was plentiful at the time, although more rarely of walnut for the very wealthy and royalty.
Invariably ornately carved and beautifully detailed, these wonderful pieces of furniture would have been unique in character, having been commissioned by the customer and incorporating coats of arms, initials and often a date reference.
Whilst design trends had come in and out of favour over the centuries, the fundamental structure of the four-poster remained largely unchanged.
Four vertical columns rising from the corners of the bedstead support the tester or canopy, which in turn would have supported heavy and often hugely flamboyant bed drapes.
In the very earliest history of the four-poster bed, these would have been used for practical purposes rather than purely aesthetic, as draughty and cold bedchambers were the norm, even within privileged households although these functional benefits were recognised right through until much more recent times.
In medieval days, when the bedroom was a far less intimate environment, beds would often have been sited in more communal areas of the house and the drapes afforded the sleeper a degree of privacy as well as warmth that would otherwise have been impossible.
Whilst the wooden four-poster will always have a special emotive place in the hearts of the nation, it is their iron successors to where our attention is drawn today.
During the 19th century and at the height of the Industrial Revolution, many thousands of Iron Beds were being manufactured in the British Midlands as foundries catered for an insatiable demand for Iron Bedsteads across the country and from far-flung corners of the British Empire. cont.........