For a long time now I've been contrasting grand centuries-old canopied beds with some of the more lavish beds that occasionally pop up in the pages of Elle Decor. After my recent post about Marla Mallett's Chinese textiles, a very kind person from the National Trust shared these colorful, wonderfully detailed images of the silk-laden 18th-century Calke State Bed. (Click them to enlarge.)
[The Calke State Bed when it was being shown as part of the Treasure Houses of Britain exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1985. ©NTPL/Mark Fiennes.]
The National Trust describes Calke Abbey as a very old British country estate in Derbyshire (early masonry found on the property dates back to the Elizabethan age) that has been preserved in a state of 20th-century decline..."a place poised somewhere between gentle neglect and downright dereliction..." Visitors to the house become acquainted with the eccentric Harpur family who, I was told, seem never to have thrown anything away.
The bed with the amazing embroidered Chinese silk hangings was probably made for King George I around 1715. It appears to have come to Calke in about 1734, as a gift from Princess Anne (daughter of George II) to her former maid of honor Lady Caroline Manners when she married Sir Henry Harpur, 5th Baronet, and went to live at Calke. Apparently the bed was mostly kept boxed up and was only properly revealed after the National Trust took over the house in 1985. In addition to the bed, Calke is home to a collection of countless 19th-and 20th-century household objects and curiosities.
Click here to read Janet Blyberg's insights on Calke, A Case for Benign Neglect.