The history and meaning behind the four-poster bed

tower bedroom Aldourie

When you think of luxury in the bedroom what are your first thoughts? Fluffy white towels, polished bronze taps in a huge en-suite, a fleece robe with matching slippers or silk sheets? Now, take yourself back a few hundred years and think what luxury would have meant then. Possibly something very simple at heart but large and robust enough to make a visual and physical impact.

The four-poster bed has a long history and was built with function in mind but also undeniably very symbolic of status. So, who had them? It was customary for royalty and noblemen to own a four-poster bed and any merchant who had one was seen as being very successful indeed.luxury bedroom Aldourie Castle four-poster bed

Where did it come from?

For such a bold-looking piece of furniture known worldwide for its undisguisable structure it is fascinating to learn that the origins of the four-poster bed are unknown. It is, however, thought to have derived in Austria before arriving in England where it captured the hearts of the British aristocracy who fell for its uniqueness and stately style.

Records show that the four-poster bed was in existence in the late C14th and early C15th. Like any idea that has the longevity to remain throughout the centuries, the four-poster bed started very simply in its design.  Originally, beds themselves were literally no more than hard boards covered in fur or quilts. What came next is interesting: the canopy part of the structure, added to the bed in the C13th, which was suspended from the ceiling and not attached to the bed in any way. Then side curtains were added, supported by beams that were built into the bed frame. Can you picture this? The four-poster bed was born.luxury bedroom Aldourie Loch Ness four-poster bed

Function and style

We mentioned that practicality played a large part in the creation of the four-poster bed. Ironically, the aspect of the beds that make them most attractive and inviting and which have given them historical charm are those which were added out of pure function. Bedrooms – or bedchambers – in the C13th had a chill about them and were often draughty. So the curtains that you would think were added to draw around the beds to give them more style were in fact to keep the sleeper warm during the night. Another reason for the drapes was to afford the lords and ladies of the time some privacy as their servants would often sleep in their rooms with them overnight.

Once the structure of the four-poster was fully established, design began to play a huge part in differentiating it for both class and country. The beds of nobility were ornately carved, painted and decorated in coats of arms of the family to which they belonged. Lavish fabrics such as silk would adorn the beds and the bed frame itself would increase in size and weight; the larger and heavier the bed, the more status the sleeper held in society. As the French adopted the four-poster, it became lighter and narrower to give a sleeker, more elegant look and generally as the years went by iron would replace the traditional English wooden frame of walnut or oak.luxury bedroom Aldourie Castle four-poster bed

Why do Aldourie bedrooms have four-poster beds?

Aldourie features a range of four-poster beds in various styles. We are style conscious as an exclusive use property should be but also concern for the comfort of the Castle’s guests is paramount. Notice how the rooms bring out each bed as a statement piece of furniture paying tribute to the historical style and its place in a stately property.

Open the door of an Aldourie Castle bedroom to reveal a four-poster and you are immediately transported back a hundred years or more, to a time of enchantment (think Disney – Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella), magic (think specifically Bedknobs and Broomsticks; a small, (flying) four-poster but it had four posts nonetheless) and luxury. By luxury we mean comfort, contentment, security; all the things you feel once you are wrapped up safely within these four posts. Once the curtains fall around you in an Aldourie Castle four-poster bed you need nothing else in order to escape into a happy slumber.


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