Beds for Princesses
Ladies who Langley often remark that an overnight stay within our 14th century walls leaves them feeling like a true princess. Naturally, our romantic interiors, irresistible window seats set within our seven-foot walls and magical and unique ambience all help, but there could be another very good reason for the princess illusion … the bed in which our ‘princesses’ and brides have dreamily rested their head.
Eight of the nine Feature and Deluxe rooms within Langley Castle’s main building have a four-poster bed awaiting the arrival of the damsels and dashing knights who head here in search of a fairy-tale stay. For centuries, the bed has been a symbol of wealth and standing; a sign of riches and prosperity. By the 15th century, owning a four-poster bed spoke volumes about one’s social standing, signifying that you were at the very top of the tree … but from where did this style of bed originate?
The answer to that is Austria. Prior to the arrival of the Austrian four-poster, the English nobility had slept on boards set on trestles, and then atop mattresses laid on boards. These structures later had curtains suspended from above, drawn with the purpose of keeping out draughts and blocking out light. Unfortunately, whilst warmth was kept inside the curtains, its unfortunate bed-fellow could be disease!
Naturally, when the four-poster arrived in England, the royals were keen to adopt it. Tudor four-poster beds were enormous, boasting carved pillars that could reach 18-inches in diameter. They typically bore the family coat of arms, not to mention carvings of knights, damsels and the odd griffin!
The Great Bed of Ware, now one of the V&A’s greatest treasures and constructed in 1590, was simply huge – over three metres wide in fact, but this was rather extraordinary … so much so that it is mentioned in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’.
Queen Elizabeth I had the ultimate bed – richly carved, painted and gilded, with a bedstead of walnut and a tester and valance made from silver and figured with velvet. Lush, decadent and extravagant – particularly bearing in mind the fringe of gold, silver and silk and the crimson satin headpiece, complete with ostrich feathers - it was all any princess or queen could have desired.
From there, the four-poster developed, becoming a much taller structure in the seventeenth century thanks to French influences and then tall and narrow during the reign of William and Mary. It even dictated how architect’s had to design or alter houses.
Of course, Langley Castle guests who wish to find out more about historic four-posters can visit the National Trust’s Sizergh Castle – a 90-minute drive away – where a spectacular Elizabethan interior and 16th century four-poster can be viewed. This is just one historic treasure within our drive-time radius.
At Langley Castle, our four-poster beds are the ultimate indulgence for guests seeking a romantic break, or a wonderful night’s sleep in total comfort. They feature in many a social media post and are always something to write home about, particularly for our American visitors. Unlike such beds found in other accommodation, our four-posters are not unnatural additions to rooms that jar with 21st century surroundings, but oases of rest that give you a deep sense of place – and true tingles - in a castle that is absolutely real and not just a façade.