Even today our bed is one of the most important objects we purchase, so we thought we would take a look at the beds and bedding of the Georgian Era.
The quality of your bed was very much dependent upon wealth. A four-poster bed with Harrateen (a fabric of linen or wool) hangings would have cost in the region of £5 (about £300 in today’s money).
The more expensive option being a four poster made using Mornine, a fabric of wool and or cotton, these beds would set you back almost £7. A feather bed would have been significantly cheaper with price ranging from 50 shilling up to around £4.
Then, of course, you would need a mattress which could have been purchased for around 15 shillings (£50 in today’s money).
The ‘gold standard’ in blankets, if you could afford them were the ‘Witney blankets’. The price of blankets varied dramatically from 7 shillings a pair to a staggering £2 a pair.
Next came the quilt at an average cost of 18 shillings. A white cotton counterpane at somewhere in the region of £1. Bed ticking at 14 pence a yard and finally a cover lid at 5 shillings.
The majority of us today are perfectly happy to use a duvet, making the bed toasty warm and easy to make. However, in the Georgian Era, things were not so straightforward. The concept of a duvet had been thought of and was in use in climates colder than here in the UK, but the concept took a further 200 years to take off over here.
The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser of Thursday, January 14, 1779, carried the following advertisement for the attention of the nobility and gentry for what we would today regard as being a duvet or quilt.
This down is greatly superior to any other, as it is not taken off the bird itself, but with great trouble collected out of the nest of the bird, so of course must be very scarce and valuable, and is much sought after by those who know its worth. The use made of it is for bed coverings; it is put up in silk, linen or cotton cases, its peculiar lightness and warmth beyond any other down, as it has that singular quality of cohesion, or cleaving to itself, that though it falls round you in bed, the upper part of the person is covered equal with the sides, and the warmth is thereby the same round the whole body. Its great lightness is so extraordinary, that it is not so heavy as one blanket, and is as warm and more genial than three or four; it is very comfortable for those afflicted with the gout who require warmth, and cannot bear a weight. There are bags made to keep the legs and feet warm in travelling.
The majority of us today have warm homes with central heating, but in the Georgian era we might have used a bed warmer to warm the bed for us, what a welcome companion on cold nights.
With the cost of all these individual items mounting up, it is no wonder that so much bedding etc was sold at auction when a person died.
We end with the joys of the matrimonial bed courtesy of, as usual, the Lewis Walpole Library.
Witney Blanket Story