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The so-called 'Mary, Queen of Scots' Bed'

Category

Furniture

Date

circa 1820 (the frame; velvet 19th century; embroidery circa 1600)

Materials

Oak, Linen, Silk, Damask, Velvet

Measurements

295 x 154 x 168 cm

Place of origin

England

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Collection

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

NT 1127728

Summary

A tester bed, English, the oak posts and slatted frame probably early 19th century, the posts now covered in scarlet linen. The headboard padded and covered in red damask overlaid with red silk, probably of the 18th century, and recognized by a Duchess of Devonshire as having been brought to Hardwick Hall by the 6th Duke from Londesbrough and used as curtains at Bolton Abbey. The underside of the tester covered with gathered silk. The curtains, bed cover, three valances and lobed skirt all of 19th century black velvet appliquéd with late 16th/early 17th century tent stitch floral slips within borders. This bed is part of the myth that Mary, Queen of Scots passed a period of her imprisonment at Hardwick Hall. There is no evidence that Mary spent any time at Hardwick (indeed, the house was not completed until after her execution in February 1587), and this bed - as a 19th century confection using earlier fabrics from different sources - cannot have been hers. Indeed, a bed with embroidered black velvet hangings is shown in the 1835 'Vitruvius Britannicus' in the same place as this bed, but the bed then known as having been Mary's (which had been brought from Chatsworth) is shown in the same volume as in the High Great Chamber. This bed, then, has earned its name merely by standing in the room which is erroneously thought to have been hers. The embroidered slips applied to the black velvet hangings, once thought to have been her work, are now thought to post-date her death.

Provenance

Transferred to the National Trust from the Treasury in 1984.

References

Boynton and Thornton 1971 Lindsay Boynton and Peter Thornton, ‘The Hardwick Inventories of 1601’, Journal of the Furniture History Society, Vol.VII, 1971 , Plate 2b National Trust (Great Britain), Hardwick Hall., 1994, p. 73

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