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A Bed of Roses: Royal or Revival? The Case of an Antique Bed

Icon Historic Interiors Group

From: Monday 21.01.19
at 9:30am
To: Monday 21.01.19
at 5:30pm

Victoria & Albert Museum

The Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre

Cromwell Road, Kensington

London, SW7 2RL


Icon members £25

Non-members £35

Students £15

Event type: 
Event language: 

In 2010 a dismantled antique four-poster bed was left for collection in a car park in Chester. It was later sold at auction as a 'profusely carved Victorian four poster bed with armorial sheilds'. However, its now owner thought the oak looked much older and was impressed by the quality of the carving. He then embarked on an exploration of the object's past, employing an unusually broad array of archaeological, forensic and art historic analyses which produced startlingly variable, and sometimes contradictory, research findings - even from the same methodology.

When all of the evidence is collated what can we conclude - is it a fifteenth century royal bed, or a revival from the age of antiquarianism?

Event description: 

The One Day Symposium will provide an opportunity for all the specialists who have conducted research on the four-poster bed to present their findings.

The bed will be on display in the Lecture Theatre and accessible to delegates for close inspection.


9.00 Registration

Welcome – Dr Anna Buelow (Chair)

  1. 9.30 – 10.00 Discovery and first impressions
    Anna Buelow in conversation with Ian Coulson (The Langley Collection)

  2. 10.00 – 11.00 Iconography & Symbolism
    10.00 – 10.30 '"Þat bed so manerly made": Beds of Power in Late-Medieval England' –  Dr Hollie Morgan (University of Lincoln)
    10.30 – 11.00 The Gothic Revival –Dr. Peter Lindfield (Manchester Metropolitan University)
  3. 11.30 – 12.00 Iconography & Symbolism (continued)
    The iconography of this bed within its cultural context, and a further discovery– Dr Jonathan Foyle (Historic Building & Places)

  4. 12.00 – 12.50 Material Analysis - Dendrochronology
    12.00 – 12.20 First Dendrochronology – Speaker TBC
    12.20 – 12.50 Second Dendrochronology of Bed & Posts - Speaker TBC

  5. 12.50 – 13.20 Witness to Time: The bed’s evolution, journey and reception
    Dr Jonathan Foyle 
  6. 14.20 – 14.40 Material Analysis - DNA
    Dr Lasse Schindler & Dr Hilke Schroeder (Thunen Institute Hamburg)

  7. 14.40 – 15.10 Material analysis - Carbon Dating
    Speaker TBC

  8. 15.10 – 15.40 Material Analysis - Paint Analysis
    Helen Hughes (Historic Interiors Research & Conservation)
  9. 16.10- 16.30 Review of The Evidence
    Discussion led by Dr Anna Buelow

  10. 16.30 – 17.30 General Discussion


17.30 End of proceedings


Join the Historic Interiors Group for a fascinating and enlightening debate about this most curious of objects.


Dr Anna Buelow