More than 500 years after his death, British historians have identified an old royal bed which is thought to have belonged to the first of the Tudor monarchs, King Henry VII. Renowned broadcaster and Chief Executive of the World Monuments Fund Britain, Jonathan Foyle, may have made a monumental discovery by uncovering what could well be the only existing piece of furniture from the Tudor Palace of Westminster.
The young King Henry VII
The four-poster bed was initially purchased by Ian Coulson of the Langley Collection in 2010 when, after having been dismantled and discarded in the car park of the Chester Redlands Hotel, it was sold in an auction as a Victorian bed to the antique furniture restorer, for £2,200. When he finished the restoration, Mr. Coulson contacted Jonathan Foyle, suspecting that the bed belonged to the Tudor dynasty, and not to the Victorian Era, which had earlier been believed. Mr. Foyle was able to trace the bed’s origins back to 1495 and has established that the wood was cut in Germany in the 1480s.
In 1485, Henry defeated King Richard III in battle and ascended the English throne. To cement his status as King, he married Elizabeth of York, Richard’s niece and the daughter of King Edward IV. It is possible that, to celebrate his wedding and the end of the War of the Roses, the new King commissioned the bed to be made.
Henry VII and Elizabeth were the parents of the famous Tudor King Henry VIII, who succeeded his father in 1509. Experts believe that it was on this marriage bed that the future Henry VIII was conceived. If this is proved to be true, the bed could be worth as much as £20 million.
Made of dark oak, the bed’s headboard features carvings depicting Henry VII and his wife as Adam and Eve, surrounded by the fruits of paradise. This symbolises fertility, and the desire of the Royal couple to produce heirs. The bed has come to be known as the Paradise State Bed.
When speaking about the discovery, Mr. Foyle said “This bed belonged to Henry VII. It has to be the most important piece of furniture (in England) — and, arguably, royal artifact. Even the Westminster coronation chair has less to say than this.”
This discovery comes a year after the remains of Henry’s predecessor, Richard III, were similarly found in a car park in Leicester.
The Paradise State Bed will be on public display at Auckland Castle until September 30th. It is also the subject of the upcoming BBC Four documentary Secret Knowledge: The King’s Lost Bed.
Photo credit: lisby1 via photopin cc
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