A Brief History of Beds

From bunk beds and berths at sea to water beds and memory foam, the bed has known many forms. Today the beds we sell at Gloucester Furniture are typical of today’s designs; either divans or beds with sprung or memory foam mattresses. But it wasn’t always so.


Medieval beds were simple

… and probably very uncomfortable. You wouldn’t have had a separate room to sleep in. If you had a bed at all it was probably a sacking mattress filled with straw. You simply took off your cloak and wrapped it around you for warmth. Although not very hygienic, at least you could quite cheaply replace your mattress by burning and replacing the filling.


Beds were for the whole family

In the fourteenth century, your bed would accommodate man, wife – and children as they came along. Naturally they had to be rather large, so that everyone would fit.


Victorian beds

The Victorians benefited from the industrial revolution; their beds had an iron bedstead and a mattress filled with horsehair. Households often had servants. Those who could afford multiple layers of sheets, blankets, eiderdown and pillowcases also had servants to change the bed.


Introducing – the duvet

Designer Terence Conran is widely credited with bringing the duvet or continental quilt to the UK from Scandinavia. Originally, they were filled with birds’ feathers, or if you could afford it the down from the bird’s breast. The development of manmade fibres made them washable and better for anyone with allergies. Duvets are warmer if they have a greater ‘loft’, which means their ability to trap air. The warmth rating is measured in togs, from 4.5 for summer to 13.5 for chillier nights.


Life hack changing the bed

The daily task of making the bed is simple now that most households use duvets, rather than sheets and blankets. Even the weekly chore of changing the duvet cover has been cracked by the latest ‘life hack’, which you can see on Youtube. It’s called the duvet burrito or California roll and it will revolutionise your life!