A Look At Beds Throughout The Ages

From the middle ages to modern day, sleep has been an important factor in peoples lives, with royalty and the rich always being given the best beds and newest technologies, where the poor may have been stuck with a straw ‘mattress’ on the floor.
A double ended red and white Roman bed with ivory detailing
A Roman Bed taken from a Villa in Pompeii. This elaborate bed would probably have been the property of a rich family.
Roman civillians would have a simple wooden bed that they would cover with elaborate fabrics. In those days, only poor couples would sleep together, whereas the rich would choose to have separate bedrooms.

In Saxon times, many people slept on a bench they use in the daytime for sitting, and then at night they would cover it with straw or animal skins.

The poor medieval people would have had a similar setup, with servants and privy people sleeping on the floor. Visiting guests would also travel with their beds, and set them up when they arrived.

A large poster bed, with a trundle bed underneath
A reproduction of a 16th Century Tudor Poster bed, with a trundle.

Rich Medieval people however, had more luxurious beds, a bedstead with cords supporting a feather mattress and curtains; and some would have had a smaller bed underneath, called a ‘trundle bed’ which would be wheeled out of servants or children, and then tucked out of the way under the bed in the daytime. Many Medieval people would also need their beds to be portable, for their many royal visits.

By the Tudor period, it was more common for poorer people to have had beds, with sleeping on straw on the floor quickly becoming outdated. Beds ranged from elaborate wooden carved bedsteads, and beds similar to the trundle beds of the medieval period.

After this time, more and more people could afford to have proper bedsteads, and with the popularity the beds and different styles, drapes and curtains became more favourable in the Stuart and Georgian times.

A Victorian style bed frame on Mattressman.co.uk

Victorian beds are most like the beds we now know, with a slatted structure and metal frame. The Victorian beds were unusually high- this was mainly to avoid draughts, although it has been suggested that this was also to avoid rodents. Metal frames were also most popular, as they attracted less bed bugs than their wooden counterparts.

The 20th Century brought modern technology to the bedroom, with Memory Foam, and Latex Mattresses soaring in popularity, and new spring technologies improving the feel, supportiveness and lifespan of the mattress.

With technology allowing us to expand on our knowledge about sleep, the 21st century brings new innovation to beds with every passing year. As the years go on, the difference in sleeping for the 'rich and poor' becomes less prominent, with most people having access to a basic bed and mattress, with more luxurious types becoming available as the budget goes up.

A floating bed in a futuristic room overlooking a large city
The future?