After an antique dealer purchased a bed online for just £2,200 nearly a decade ago, he was later to learn that this beautiful object may have once been the marital bed of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, who were officially the very first Tudor king and queen to rule England.
As National Geographic reports, antique dealer Ian Coulson initially bought what he believed would be a “profusely carved Victorian four-poster bed with armorial shields.” This was, after all, the way it had been advertised online.
Once Coulson officially bought the bed, he noted, “At that stage I thought it was a supreme example of the Arts and Craft movement,” which was a hugely popular Victorian movement started by William Morris and his close circle of friends in 19th century England.
However, after further inspection, Coulson swiftly realized that his newly purchased bed was almost certainly not Victorian in origin. In fact, it looked as though it had been repaired a good many times, which would not be in keeping with a Victorian bed. A medieval bed, however, would make more sense.
But before the antique dealer reached this stage, he examined the wood of the bed and discovered that the timber had been carved and crafted by hand, using what appeared to be medieval tools, rather than the ones that were normally used during the Victorian era.
When an antique dealer went to pick up a bed frame he’d bought online, he didn't know it may actually be the bridal bed of England's first Tudor king and queen. https://t.co/VI5RFOGKrM
— National Geographic Magazine (@NatGeoMag) February 2, 2019
Another giveaway that the bed purchased online might be medieval was the handsome English royal coat of arms which appeared rather dramatically over the top of the whole ensemble.
Once Coulson had thoroughly analyzed all of these things, he spent nearly nine years speaking with experts. And after much studying of the bed, it is the belief of a good many of these experts that this bed may have once belonged to Tudor-era King Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York.
The couple’s marriage helped to finally end the brutal War of the Roses in 1486 and, if it is proven that this bed was once the marriage bed of King Henry VII, it would be the only piece of royal furnishing known that actually survived and made it out of the English Civil War.
Jonathan Foyle, a well-known Tudor historian and former curator at Historic Royal Palaces, is of the opinion that this bed is almost certainly medieval in origin, and that it was once the property of King Henry VII.
“This has to be the most important piece of furniture in England, arguably the most important royal artifact. Even the Westminster Coronation Chair has less to say than this. You have the royal coats of arms, the cross of Saint George, the roses of the houses of Lancashire and York, fertility symbols such as the acorn. Whoever carved this had a deep understanding of the iconography of the time.”
Experts also discovered rare ultramarine within the paint of this bed, which would have normally only been used during the medieval era. Architectural paint researcher Helen Hughes believes that this is another crucial piece of evidence which points to its era of craftsmanship.
With the wood of the bed dated and shown to come from European Oaks, it would appear that the evidence is so far greatly in favor of this bed having once belonged to the medieval era, and King Henry VII in particular, and as Coulson elaborated, “If this isn’t the royal bed, what else can it be?”