Famous beds: Great Bed of Ware

One of the most famous sleeping places in British History.

By: Stephen Regan (Other Open University departments)

  • Duration 5 mins
  • Updated Friday 9th October 1998
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Heritage
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William Morris' bed Copyrighted image Copyright: Production team

The Great Bed of Ware is a giant four-poster measuring 11 feet wide, 10 feet long and 9 feet high.

Now based at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, it dates back to the late 16th Century and the town of Ware in Hertfordshire. Experts believe the bed was commissioned by a wily inn-keeper in Ware wanting to attract more business.

Since its origins in 16th Century Ware, the bed has featured in many examples of famous literature (Shakespeare, Jonson, Farqhuar, Byron), been the subject of wild exploits (26 butchers and their wives once spent a night in the bed for a bet) and even exhibited at an early amusement park.

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Great Bed of Ware is one of the objects on display in the British Galleries.