Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Georgians: And So to Bed

On a recent tour of the Queen's State Apartments at Hampton Court Palace, my attention was taken by a chest / truckle bed in Queen's Guard Chamber.
The cot / chest in which a yeoman guard
might snatch a quick nap.
Apparently, this was where a weary yeoman guard could nap during the long watches of the night. This set me thinking and hence this post about the three beds on view in the state apartments.
The yeoman guard's bed was basically a trunk in disguise. With the lid down, you'd barely notice it as anything other than an underwhelming piece of furniture in the guard room. 
The fireplace in the Guard Room -
Two yeoman guards are featured in the caryatids. 
However, just a few rooms deeper into the royal apartments in the State Bedchamber the contrast with couldn't be greater as the Royal Bed of State is revealed in all its crimson brocade splendour.

The Royal Bed of State.
In a room dripping with opulence and decorated with fabulous paintings portraying the power of the royal family, we find a bed fit for a king...and queen. But just because this is a bed, doesn't imply any degree of privacy. Quite the opposite in fact. A courtier, or petitioner of influence, might be shown into this inner sanctum in order to present his business to the king.
The awe-inspiring ceiling in the State Bedchamber.
Designed to impress!
Fair enough the courtier wouldn't just wander in, he'd need to be sanctioned by the Yeoman Guard and then be escorted through the Queen's Presence Chamber, the Dining Room, the Privy Chambers and Drawing Room in order to reach the State Bedroom - but the principle remains that a person might do business with the king as he dressed.
The view from the State Bedchamber.
The idea is actually quite a practical one. In the 18th century it took an hour or more for the monarch to rise, dress, be coiffured and kitted out in all his royal finery. Neither did the king dress himself, but was attended by trusted servants who attended to his bodily needs as if he were a mannequin.
Deeper within the State Apartments we find the private rooms. It is here, in the Queen's Bedchamber. Heaven's above - this room had a lock on it and was a rare place where the royal couple might seek some privacy.
The Queen's bed within her private rooms
Queen Caroline would have slept here in the company of her husband, George II. Adjacent is a private dining room, a private bathroom and an oratory (prayer room), so whilst their idea of a family life wasn't exactly normal, with a small army of servants coming and going, one can at least hope the courtiers and petitioners didn't intrude this far.
Contrasting places to rest a weary head:
A trunk or state bed.
Which would you prefer? 
And finally...


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting, Judy.
      Do you mean the cat pics? I hope my photography isn't so bad as to be laughable - but you never know!
      G x

  2. Was it a "go through one room to get to the next" setup? Not separate doors on a hallway?

    Great pictures. :)

    1. Quite right, Debra, you walked through a procession of rooms, from one to the next. Not at all like a domestic house with a hallway and rooms off.
      G x

  3. What an interesting blog, Grace. Duly followed! [via Google +! I mean]

    1. Thank you, Robyn, so glad you enjoyed the post.

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